Victor Shih has a fascinating account of a land grab traceable to old friends of forthcoming president Xi Jinping, and apparently published now in an attempt to embarrass him and reveal his connections to a wider audience.
The story involves Xi, a property developer from his old stamping ground in Fujian, and the provincial governor of Yunnan, who may have known Xi from his days in a tractor factory – retro touch! - in Yan’an and whose climb up the ladder from there may have been initiated by the Xi family.
Now Xi’s progress will have been facilitated by success in Fujian, which in turn requires hooking up with major local property developers – men who can build him a glorious city. When his friend in his turn requires a favour, Xi turns to the man he helped up the ladder who now occupies a powerful but still subordinate post.
This nexus is powerful enough to ignore the laws supervised by the fairly low ranking Ministry of Land and Resources. However, the Ministry has now been empowered to investigate the deal, and while it can’t grab the land back it can raise a satisfyingly publishable fuss. This is presumably at the prompting of factions opposed to Xi, or at least those that wish to limit his scope for action.
Now, the Ministry of Land, by publicly condemning this project, is clearly under instruction to give Century Golden and its political backers an embarrassing slap on the wrist. To be sure, the project will go ahead because the MLR clearly cannot impose punitive measures on an entity with this much political backing, but everyone now knows that certain leading cadre is not so clean after all.
So the question is, where did the instructions come from?