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Memoir Details How China Keeps Business in Line

  • September 24, 2021

Some readers might struggle to sympathize with the former power couple and wealthy Chinese business leaders like them. The book describes the riches they amassed through wheeling and dealing with powerful government officials, who used their influence to make deals happen. And, of course, the combination of money and politics breeds corruption around the world.

But Mr. Shum’s book has come out just as the future of China’s entrepreneurs is in doubt. The government has cracked down on the most successful private enterprises, including Alibaba Group, the e-commerce giant, and Didi, the ride-hailing company. It has sentenced business leaders who dared to criticize the government to lengthy prison terms.

China’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping, has urged tycoons to share their wealth with the rest of the country in an effort to pursue “common prosperity,” leading to concerns that the state could choke out the private sector and give the Communist Party even more sway in everyday life.

“The party has an almost animal instinct toward repression and control,” Mr. Shum wrote in the book. “It’s one of the foundational tenets of a Leninist system. Anytime the party can afford to swing toward repression, it will.”

Despite their flaws, mistakes and crimes, China’s business types have played an important role in lifting the country out of poverty and building it into the world’s second-largest economy — something the Communist Party is reluctant to admit.

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