Word on the street is Thailand had a little political shakedown this past week: Something about a Prime Minister being ousted and tanks rolling in the capital city. Kids these days … Not one to be out done, and perhaps to reclaim the spotlight, Shanghai (well, actually the order came from Beijing) stirred up a political tumult of its own, sans armored vehicles and AK-47s, but equally as CNN-worthy.
Today, at 12 noon, news outlets around China dropped a bomb shell. Shanghai’s Communist Party chief, Mr. Chen Liangyu (seen here yawning during a People’s Congress conclave) was relieved of all official duties for his “unconscionable” involvement in a massive pension scandal. As the most senior leader of the financial and cultural capital of China, Shanghai’s party (the communist kind) honcho wields an enormous amount of power and influence, so much so that previous holders of the office have all ascended to greater glory in Beijing, including the current No. 2 (吴邦国/Wu Bangguo) and number No. 4 (黄菊/Huang Ju) men in the CCP, and last generation leaders such as Premier Zhu Rongji and President Jiang Zemin (who, we were told, liked to belt out an aria or two from time to time).
The news, though significant, isn’t all that surprising. Rumors of Mr. Chen’s political demise have been brewing for years, perhaps having more to do with his personal allegiance to the prior administration than personal integrity (or there lack of). Shanghaiist has heard him going to anywhere from the Ministry of Forestry (hey, that rhymes) to the province of Gansu, both of which clearly a step down from the limelight of Shanghai, but lightyears better than his current predicament, which will likely see him be made an example of, and no one want to be made an example of in China.
Will the yuan stop with Mr. Chen? We doubt it. With the upcoming People’s Congress conclave, the personnel jockeying has only just begun. But the question foremost on our readers’ mind is: What will this mean to the expat community here in Shanghai? Our guess: Probably very little, most people perhaps have never even heard of Mr. Chen until this post. Lights at Bar Rouge (and now Attica … we have heard good things about this new Bund venue) will shine just as brightly. Party on, people! Party on!