HK riveted by glimpse of 'red aristocracy' lifestyle

HK riveted by glimpse of 'red aristocracy' lifestyle
Chinese leader Bo Xilai

HONG KONG - It runs like a Hong Kong TV drama, with its titillating details about illicit affairs, anguished slaps and 50-year-old underwear.

Over the past week, local newspapers and magazines have splashed the trial of disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai across their pages, all trying to outdo each other with colour photographs, diagrams depicting the web of relationships and even imaginative multiple-choice quizzes.

But Hong Kong readers were devouring the details not just because of their insatiable appetite for "bat gwa", or gossip, news.

Analysts say the huge interest among Hong Kongers also stems from their desire to know more about the Chinese justice system, the power struggle in mainland elite politics and what all this could mean for Hong Kong.

Dr Willy Lam, a veteran observer of Chinese politics, said: "People are quite fascinated because it is a rare slice of reality, of how members of the 'red aristocracy' live.

"But they are also interested in the graphic details of how corruption flows and the granting of favours - because of the impact on Hong Kong."

There are real concerns among Hong Kongers about whether a culture of malfeasance is encroaching into the city.

Earlier this month, news broke that the anti-bribery unit of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating JP Morgan Chase's hiring in Hong Kong of a daughter of Zhang Shuguang, a former railway official nabbed for corruption, and a son of Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group.

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