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Mapping China’s Red Nobility

Bloomberg News mapped the families of Communist China’s “Eight Immortals” to reveal the origins of princelings, an elite class that has been able to amass wealth and influence, and exploit opportunities unavailable to most Chinese. Bloomberg tracked 103 people – descendants including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and their respective spouses. The Immortals, now all dead, are revered in communist lore as revolutionary fighters who led China’s economic opening after Mao Zedong’s death. The identities and business dealings of these families are often cloaked in secrecy because of state censorship and complex corporate webs. To document them, Bloomberg scoured thousands of pages of corporate filings, property records, official websites and archives, and conducted dozens of interviews from China to the United States, where many were educated and have at times made their homes. To read the related stories click here and here.

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The Deng family
Deng Xiaoping emerged as leader after Mao's death, overseeing China's economic opening. Deng famously wore a 10-gallon hat at a rodeo during a 1979 U.S. visit. Son Zhifang soon followed to America, earning a physics Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. Grandson Zhuo Di, a bridge player, used to work with U.S. law firm White & Case. Another grandson, Zhuo Su, is chairman of a company invested in an Australian iron ore miner.
Back to patriarchs
Deng
Xiaoping
邓小平
Zhuo
Lin
卓琳

Wife
Gao Suning
高苏宁

Daughter-in-law
Deng
Pufang
邓朴方

Son
Deng Lin
邓林

Daughter
Wu Jianchang
吴建常

Son-in-law
Zhuo Su
卓泝

Grandson
Deng
Nan
邓楠

Daughter
Zhang Hong
张宏

Ex-son-in-law
Deng Zhuorui
邓卓芮

Granddaughter
Deng
Rong
邓榕

Daughter
He Ping
贺平

Son-
in-law
Zhuo Yue
卓玥

Granddaughter
Feng Bo
冯波

Grandson-
in-law
Deng Zhifang
邓质方

Son
Liu Xiaoyuan
刘小元

Daughter-in-law
Zhuo Di
卓棣

Grandson
Feng Ran
冯然

Great-grandson
The Chen family
A typesetter before the war, Chen Yun was lauded by Mao for stabilizing the economy after 1949 and was an architect of economic planning. While Chen frowned on the pace of Deng's reforms, his family took to capitalism. Son Chen Yuan runs China Development Bank. Grandson Xiaoxin works in private equity, as does his sister Xiaodan, who wore an Oscar de la Renta dress at a 2006 debutante ball in Paris.
Back to patriarchs
Chen
Yun
陈云
Yu
Ruomu
于若木

Wife
Chen Yichu
陈怡初

Granddaughter
Chen Shuyu
陈姝羽

Granddaughter
Chen Weili
陈伟力

Daughter
Sun Fang
孙放

Son-in-law
Chen
Yuan
陈元

Son
Sun Yuli
孙玉黎

Ex-daughter-in-law
Bian Xiajun
边霞君

Ex-daughter-in-law
Tian Lan
田岚

Daughter-in-law
Chen Xiaoxin
陈小欣

Grand-
son
Chen Xiaodan
陈晓丹

Grand-
daughter
Chen Weihua
陈伟华

Daughter
Dong Xiaoguo
董小国

Son-in-law
Dong Wei
董巍

Grandson
Chen Weilan
陈伟兰

Daughter
Chen
Xinhua
陈新华

Son-
in-law
Chen Chen
陈晨

Grandson
Song Zhenzhen
宋真真

Ex-daughter-in-law
Jia Fangci
贾方慈

Daughter-
in-law
Chen Fang
陈方

Son
The Song family
Purged in the 1960s, Song Renqiong lived in a mud-brick house on a labor farm, later returning to power with Deng Xiaoping. Three of his daughters left in the 1980s to study in the U.S. and became American citizens: Binbin, a famous Red Guard, worked for the State of Massachusetts. Zhenzhen lives in San Francisco and is developing an e-commerce company. Zhaozhao is a nurse in Michigan.
Back to patriarchs
Song
Renqiong
宋任穷
Zhong
Yuelin
钟月林

Wife
Huang
Haitao
黄海涛

Grand-
son
Huang Haixin
黄海昕

Grand-
daughter
Song Qin
宋勤

Daughter
Huang
Desheng
黄德生

Son-in-law
Song Xiaoping
宋小平

Daughter
Wang Tianxi
王天锡

Son-in-law
Song
Kehuang
宋克荒

Son
Cao Xiaochun
曹晓春

Daughter-
in-law
Miller Song
Grand-
son
Song Binbin
宋彬彬

Daughter
Jin Jiansheng
靳剑生

Son-in-law
Jin Yan
Grandson
Song Yunfei
宋云飞

Daughter
Guan Nanfang
管南方

Son-in-law
Guan Chen
管晨

Grandson
Song Zhenzhen
宋真真

Daughter
Chen Fang
陈方

Ex-son-in-law
Song
Jingbo
宋京波

Son
Song
Zhaozhao
宋昭昭

Daughter
Alan Lee Knaus
Son-in-law
The Peng family
Peng Zhen, the longtime Communist Party boss of Beijing, was purged, like most of the Immortals, during the 1966–1976 Cultural Revolution. Son Fu Liang runs a Shenzhen golf club and is on the board of a Citic-owned TV and satellite communications company.
Back to patriarchs
Peng
Zhen
彭真
Zhang Jieqing
张洁清

Wife
Fu Rui
傅锐

Son
Fu Yan
傅彦

Daughter
Zhou Yuanyuan
周援远

Son-in-law
Fu Yang
傅洋

Son
Fu Liang
傅亮

Son
The Wang family
Wang Zhen, the plain-spoken general, called "Uncle Beard" by Deng Xiaoping's family, is credited with saving the Communist Revolution by carving farms from wasteland near Mao's redoubt of Yan'an. His sons were all business executives: Wang Jun ran Citic Group and now spends his time promoting golf; Wang Zhi founded a computer company; and Wang Bing was in aviation. Great-granddaughter Clare travels between college in Sydney and the family home in Beijing.
Back to patriarchs
Wang
Zhen
王震
Wang Jiqing
王季青

Wife
Wang Bing
王兵

Son
Wang Anyan
Daughter-in-law
Wang
Jingyang
王京阳

Grandson
Ye Jingzi
叶静子

Granddaughter
-in-law
Wang
Jun
王军

Son
Ye Wenshan
叶文珊

Daughter-in-law
Wang Jingjing
王京京

Granddaughter
Clare Wang
王吉湘

Great-grand-
daughter
Danny
Wong

Great-grandson
Wang
Zhi
王之

Son
Wang Jingchuan
王京川

Granddaughter
Wang Jingchen
王京晨

Grandson
The Bo family
Bo Yibo was the last Immortal to die, at age 98. He was Mao's first finance minister and later a vice premier. Son Bo Xilai entered the ruling Politburo months after his father's death in 2007. He was ousted in 2012 and accused of taking bribes, after his wife was found guilty of murdering a British businessman.
Back to patriarchs
Bo
Yibo
薄一波
Hu Ming
胡明

Wife
Bo Xiying
薄熙莹

Daughter
Zheng Yaowen
郑耀文

Son-in-law
Bo Jieying
薄洁莹

Daughter
Bo Xiyong
薄熙永

Son
Bo Xilai
薄熙来

Son
Li Danyu
李丹宇

Ex-daughter-in-law
Bo Guagua
薄瓜瓜

Grandson
Li Wangzhi
李望知
Grandson
Brenda Chen
Granddaughter-in-law
Gu Kailai
谷开来

Daughter
-in-law
Bo Xiaoying
薄小莹

Daughter
Bo Xicheng
薄熙成

Son
Bo Xining
薄熙宁

Son
The Li family
Li Xiannian backed Deng Xiaoping's decision to suppress the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Son Li Ping became a major general. Daughter Li Xiaolin studied at UCLA, married an outspoken Air Force general, and, like one of Deng's daughters, spends her time running a semi-official diplomatic organization.
Back to patriarchs
Li
Xiannian
李先念

Lin
Jiamei
林佳媚

Wife
Li Jin
李劲

Daughter
Liu Shichao
刘仕超

Son-in-law
Li Ziyang
李紫阳

Daughter
Fan Xiaofu
范晓复

Son-in-law
Fan Yiwen
范依文

Granddaughter
Gao Haining
高海宁

Grandson-in-law
Li Ping
李平

Son
Wang Lurong
王路荣

Daughter-in-law
Li Wei
李威

Grandson
Li
Xiaolin
李小林

Daughter
Liu Yazhou
刘亚洲

Son-in-law
Liu Linzhi
刘林智

Grandson
The Yang family
As president of China and a PLA leader, Yang Shangkun, together with his brother General Yang Baibing backed the decision to crush the Tiananmen Square protestors. Son Yang Shaojing followed his father into the army. Daughter Yang Li was honorary chairman of a company partly owned by Citic Group and is married to a top executive at China Poly Group, the state-owned arms-to-real estate conglomerate.
Back to patriarchs
Yang
Shangkun
杨尚昆
Li Bozhao
李伯钊

Wife
Yang Shaojing
杨绍京

Son
Zhang Meide
张美德

Daughter-in-law
Yang Yang
杨杨

Granddaughter
Yang Jiao
杨娇

Granddaughter
Yang
Shaoming
杨绍明

Son
Yang Li
杨李

Daughter
Wang
Xiaochao
王小朝

Son-in-law
Wang Liangmei
王靓妹

Granddaughter
  • 3rd generation
  • 2nd generation
  • 1st generation
  • 4th generation
  • 3rd generation
  • 2nd generation
  • 1st generation
Immortal together
Like any aristocracy, the families of the Eight Immortals often intertwine. Connections found by Bloomberg News include business dealings, employers in common, ties to the same private or state-owned companies and diplomatic organizations, and even an intermarriage.
Hover on a section to see an entire clan’s connections, or click to see the clan’s family tree.
Hover on a circle to see one family member’s connections.
Hover on a line to see details of the connection.
The Eight Immortals
Below are the Eight Immortals, founding fathers of Communist China who later emerged from the chaos of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution to orchestrate the opening of China to the world in 1978. Click on an immortal to explore his family tree and see what happened to the next generations.

Deng Xiaoping 邓小平

Paramount leader after Mao's death and architect of the economic liberalization that lifted China out of poverty. The opening created opportunities for princelings to enrich themselves.

Bo Yibo 薄一波

Communist China's first finance minister, he later served four terms as vice premier. He was purged during the Cultural Revolution and came back to help Deng Xiaoping reshape the economy.

Chen Yun 陈云

One of the earliest members of the Communist Party, his influence rivaled Deng Xiaoping's. He ran economic policy in the 1980s and is famous for his description of China's economic reform as being like a bird in a cage.

Song Renqiong 宋任穷

Communist Party war hero in charge of northeastern provinces and space technology industries. His power peaked in the 1980s, when he became one of the elders that ruled the country.

Peng Zhen 彭真

Beijing party chief purged at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he returned to the Politburo in 1979 and became National People's Congress chairman in 1983. Peng oversaw drafting of laws that accompanied China's economic opening up.

Wang Zhen 王震

A war hero credited with saving communist troops from starvation in Nanniwan, he later led the People's Liberation Army to conquer Xinjiang. He led the military after the Cultural Revolution and became vice president in 1988.

Li Xiannian 李先念

President from 1983 to 1988, he helped orchestrate the arrest of the so-called "Gang of Four," led by Mao Zedong's wife, blamed for the Cultural Revolution. An architect of China's economic policy, he ordered his family to stay out of business, according to state media interviews with his children.

Yang Shangkun 杨尚昆

China's president from 1988 to 1993. He was promoted to first vice chairman of the Central Military Commission after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, while his brother, another general, also rose up the ranks. A close ally of Deng Xiaoping, Yang Shangkun lost military power after 1992.
PHOTOS Deng: AFP/Getty Images; Bo: EyePress; Chen: AFP/Getty Images; Song: Family photo via Miller Song; Peng: AP Photo/Neal Ulevich; Wang: AFP/Getty Images; Li: Keystone/Getty Images; Yang: AFP/Getty Images
Measuring privilege
Tracking the fortunes of 103 people – the Immortals' descendants and their spouses* – Bloomberg News shows how they reaped benefits from China's boom. They parlayed state jobs and connections into private careers, and were able to work, study and buy property overseas.
Clans with connections
Educated overseas: 30 people
Lived, worked or owned property in U.S.: 34 people
Executives in private business: 43 people
*Executives or directors of private or publicly listed companies
Executives in state-owned enterprises: 26 people
Held government or Communist Party positions: 30 people
*Excludes state-owned companies and the military
Links to companies registered offshore: 18 people
*Includes executives and directors of companies registered or affiliates registered offshore in jurisdictions with strict privacy laws. These include the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Liberia. It doesn't include companies registered in Hong Kong.
Ties to China's military: 25 people
*Includes members of the military or related associations, attending military-affiliated schools, working for companies connected to the People's Liberation Army, executives at state-owned armaments, space and nuclear companies, and officials.
Worked in finance: 27 people
Worked in technology: 21 people
Worked in real estate: 16 people
* Note: Bloomberg's relative trend counts do not include Alan Lee Knaus, who is not a Chinese descendant.

Sources: Hong Kong corporate and stock exchange filings; Chinese corporate filings with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and stock exchange filings; interviews; Chinese official news media reports; school alumni records.

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