Xi Jinping today was formally named as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party – the new leader and the most powerful dictator over a nation of some 1.3 billion subjects. Simultaneously, in a break with tradition, Xi was appointed chairman of the Party’s Central Military Commission, giving him immediate power over the largest army in the world, with the fastest expanding military budget.
Striding onto the low stage in the East Hall of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Mr. Xi led out the six men – as usual no women allowed – selected through months of secret negotiations to join him on the elite Standing Committee of the Politburo. Thus was a transition of power from one Standing Committee to another achieved, so far without a ripple of opposition. Seven look-alike elderly Chinamen, all with dyed black hair, dark suits and, with one exception, red ties, appeared in order of importance, revealing themselves before the 18th Congress.
Their names are: Xi Jinping (President), Li Kequiang (Premier), Zhang, Dejiang, Yu, Zhengsheng, Liu, Yunsheng, Wang, Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli. Other than with respect to the first two, little as yet is known about the remaining five members. All of them have been carefully groomed and vetted by the Party elite over many years.
Significantly, the Standing Committee has been reduced from Nine to Seven members. According to Bueno de Mesquita and Alisdair Smith, in their book, The Dictator’s Handbook any reduction in the size of a winning autocratic coalition signals increased repression and increased looting of wealth from the subjects of the ruling coaltion or cabal. So that is my expectation.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the dwarfs are kindly and helpful creatures, fiercely protective of Snow White (who here personifies the Chinese people). They take care of Snow White when she is poisoned by a seductive apple offered to her by the Queen, her wicked Step-Mother.
In today’s China, alas, the Seven Dwarfs are the the Wicked Step-Mother in disguise. They offer the poisoned apple to their helpless subjects, with the intent of seizing their wealth and moving it into foreign bank accounts during the decade-long rule that they have now accessed:
“We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do
It ain’t no trick to get rich quick
if you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick
in a mine! in a mine! in a mine! in a mine!
Where a million diamonds shine
We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till night
We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight
We dig up diamonds by the score
A thousand rubies, sometimes more
But we don’t know what we dig ’em for
We dig dig dig-a-dig dig
(Walt Disney, Heigh-ho Lyrics, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)