The descendants of Communist China’s so-called Eight Immortals have spawned a new elite class known as the princelings, who are able to amass wealth and exploit opportunities unavailable to most Chinese.
Bloomberg News traced the origins of 103 people, the Immortals’ direct descendants and their spouses. While the patriarchs are now all dead, they are revered in communist lore as revolutionary fighters who led China’s economic opening after Mao Zedong’s death.
To document the identities and business dealings of the Immortals’ descendants, which are often obscured by state censorship and complex corporate webs, Bloomberg News scoured thousands of pages of corporate filings, property records, official websites and archives, and conducted dozens of interviews from China to the U.S.
Twenty-six of the heirs ran or held top positions in state-owned companies that dominate the economy, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. At least 11 of the 31 members of the third generation tracked by Bloomberg News ran their own businesses or held executive posts, most commonly in finance and technology.
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