The mystery of missing women who made a deal with China’s “red nobility”

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Four years after disappearing in Beijing, Duan Weihong is still missing and is believed to have been detained by CCP investigators.

“They never admitted to taking her away,” Duan’s ex-husband and former business partner Desmond Shum said. “Even her parents did not get any information from the government.”

Over the years, Duan, also known by her English name Whitney, and Shen took turns trading at the highest level. They used their relationships with some of the most powerful families and officials in the party to obtain lucrative real estate and logistics projects, as well as equity investments in large state-owned enterprises.

The main contacts of Duan and Shum include Zhang BeiliThe wife of former prime minister Wen Jiabao, and Sun Zhengcai, the potential successor of President Xi Jinping who was purged in 2017. Duan disappeared on September 5, 2017, just six weeks after Sun was detained on suspicion of corruption.

Months and years passed, without any information about Duan, Shen decided to write a book about their years in the dangerous relationship between business and politics in the world’s second largest economy.Worried about the direction of China Under the tableIn 2015, Shum decided to leave the country. Since Duan disappeared, he has never returned: “If I go in, I can’t get out,” he told the Financial Times.

Red rouletteIt will be published next week, mainly about the “golden age” that Shen considers Chinese entrepreneurs, starting in the mid-1990s, when they enjoyed more business freedom than decades.

But it is also about the rejuvenation of the Communist Party of China that it is convinced that it has an advantage against Western competitors, especially the United States, and this transitional period has faded.

“Deng Xiaoping started economic reforms in 1978 not because he believed in the spirit of private entrepreneurship,” Shen said, referring to the architect of China’s economic recovery after Mao Zedong’s death.

“The country is bankrupt. In order to save the country, the party must allow private ownership and entrepreneurship to flourish. But by 2005, the party was able to recover to [state dominance]. They have never changed, this is a stopgap measure. ”

Duan Weihong in Tiananmen Square in the late 1990s, her English name is Whitney

Shen believes in his book that Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, has accelerated Central tendency This emerged under the leadership of his predecessor Hu Jintao. “Only in times of crisis will the party relax its control,” he wrote.

Shen also believes that Xi Jinping’s fierce anti-corruption campaign has enhanced his reputation, and its role is to consolidate the dominance of the party’s “princelings” who were born in families who participated in the communist revolution. Xi is a member of this “red nobility.” His father, Xi Zhongxun, is a senior party and government official under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

“The red nobility will always enjoy privileges,” Shen said. “They go to different schools since kindergarten, and they live in different yards… This is how the system has always worked, and this is how the system is structured. If you have no connection with China’s political power, you will always Won’t do anything meaningful.”

Red roulette Focusing on the relationship between Shen Heduan and “Aunt Zhang”, they called the former prime minister’s wife. Shum wrote that their transaction was never recorded, but Aunt Zhang obtained a standard 30% stake in the project she facilitated the visit.

He also detailed the private meetings and discussions between Duan and the top political figures in China, including the vice president. Wang Qishan, When he was the deputy prime minister, Xi Jinping before assuming the presidency Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife.

At the other end of the political spectrum, Mr. Shen deals with officials, including Li Peiying, the “boss” in charge of Beijing Airport, and Li Ping, or “Emperor of Tu”, the local power broker in charge of the area around the airport.

The economic interests of airport administrators and officials in neighboring areas often conflict, leading to fierce bureaucratic competition. But the two parties are also Shen’s partners in the airport logistics park, and the success of the park is one of his biggest professional victories.

The park provides a new building for China’s quarantine and quality control management department, which has tennis courts and a large restaurant, but no theater and indoor gymnasium with facilities for customs officials. “You owe us,” a quarantine officer teased Shen. “We have never been as greedy as customs.”

A group photo of Duan Weihong and Shen Desmond during a trip to Lake Geneva in 2004

Duan and Shen, now 53, divorced in 2015. They have a son. His mother was only 8 years old when he disappeared. He now lives in the UK with his father.

Shum initially regarded his writing project as a “gift” to his son, and he did not intend to publish it. But he decided to do so to put pressure on the party to confirm Duan’s whereabouts and expose a regime that he believes is taking China in the wrong direction and posing a danger to the world.

“You can rely on Xi Jinping to make the worst policy decisions at any time. If you want to guess where he is going next, choose the worst option-where he will go,” Shen said.As an example, he pointed to the party’s “Rectification” drive Disproportionately targeting private sector companies and their Suppress About the democratic movement in Hong Kong.

Shum was born in Shanghai, but when Hong Kong was still under British rule, he moved to Hong Kong as a child and then went to university in the United States.

He said: “Seeing Hong Kong fall down like it really hurts.” “I am very happy to live a very quiet life. But if Hong Kong people are willing to sacrifice so much to defend their freedom and freedom, maybe I can also take a step forward. One small step.”

Mr. Shen flew to Hong Kong to participate in a large-scale protest in the summer of 2019 Extradition Act. He returned to vote in November of that year District Council Election.

“I have a responsibility to tell the world what China is, especially in today’s environment,” Shen added.

“epidemic From China It changed everyone’s life, killed our loved ones, and closed the businesses we used to frequent. .. I think everyone has a responsibility to better understand this country that has given us these, and it is likely to bring another impact in our life. “

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