Bo Xilai

'Unfashionable' princeling finds himself in fashion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

The word 'princelings' is not a term of endearment. On the mainland, it's more likely to mean someone who is pampered, privileged, undeserving, egoistic and probably unscrupulous. They are where they are in society because they were born with the right family names within the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy.

But a new generation of princelings is being educated overseas and increasingly acutely aware of the need not to appear so conspicuously offensive.

A prime example is the photogenic Bo Guagua . He is the son of Bo Xilai , former commerce minister and now Chongqing municipality boss, and the grandson of Bo Yibo , one of the party's Eight Immortals. The 22-year-old is studying philosophy, politics and economics at Balliol College, Oxford, on a full scholarship - won purely, no doubt, on his own merits. He has also just been named one of 10 most outstanding Chinese youngsters in Britain, according to a breathless report by the China News Service. They were each given the Big Ben Award, funded by the British Chinese Youth Federation, for their contributions to local communities.

At such a tender age, young Bo is already the author of an English book, called Uncommonwealth. The book is advertised as a critique of the blind pursuit of fads and extols the need to be unfashionable. Funny that: he has just been featured in the Chinese edition of Esquire and is an adviser to Oxford Emerging Markets, a company founded by Oxford undergraduates to explore investment and career opportunities in emerging markets. What can be more fashionable than these?