I saw this piece on Zhang Xin, China’s richest woman on 60 Minutes last week that was very interesting. First of all, Zhang’s life story is incredible of how she went from poverty and working in a Honk Kong sweatshop to becoming the world’s 5th richest self-made woman. However, her comments on wanting democracy in China I found very surprising:
When Lesley and her producer Shachar Bar-On went to China to meet Xin, they thought it was an assignment to profile a rich and famous real estate mogul. Instead, they got a surprise: Xin (pronounced shin) took the interview to a place they couldn’t have predicted. Why would a woman who has everything to lose risk angering the Chinese government with a few remarks on American television? It certainly wasn’t the result the of a “gotcha question.”
“What she said was not really responding to a question I asked, so it just bubbled up from within her,” Lesley told us.
What Xin said was that the Chinese people feel a great longing for democracy, and she predicted that democracy would come to China in less than 20 years. For most Americans, it’s difficult to grasp what a shocking statement this is for the Chinese, especially when delivered in an interview with the Western media.
“I mean, the story was about real estate– she didn’t have to go there,” says Lesley’s producer Shachar. “We asked, ‘Are you OK? Is this fine?’ and she said, ‘You know 60 Minutes doesn’t come often to China, and I think Americans should know this. And I’m just gonna say it.’” [CBS News]
Something else I thought that was controversial was how she condemned the Chinese government for the massive corruption in China. She must feel pretty comfortable that her billions will protect her from retribution from the Chinese government for saying such things considering what they did to someone with lesser status such as Ai Weiwei. What I think the Chinese government will do is use their 50 Cent Party to try and discredit her online some how by claiming that she wants democracy so her and her billionaire friends can establish a rich oligarchy to run China.