xxxxx asserted to PolOff [Political Officer] March 12 that the Party should be viewed primarily as a collection of interest groups. There was no "reform wing," xxxxx claimed.xxxxx made the same argument in several discussions with PolOff over the past year, asserting that China's top leadership had carved up China's economic "pie," creating an ossified system in which "vested interests" drove decision-making and impeded reform as leaders maneuvered to ensure that those interests were not threatened. It was "well known," xxxxx stated, that former
Premier Li Peng and his family controlled all electric power interests; PBSC [Politburo Standing Committee] member and security czar Zhou Yongkang and associates controlled the oil interests; the late former top leader Chen Yun's family controlled most of the PRC's banking sector; PBSC member and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman Jia Qinglin was the main interest behind major Beijing real estate developments; Hu Jintao's son-in-law ran Sina.com; and Wen Jiabao's wife controlled China's precious gems sector.
xxxxx, separately described leadership alignments at the top of the CCP as shaped largely by one's "princeling" [i.e., descendant of the first generation of communist leaders] or "shopkeeper" [i.e., bureaucrat who came up through the ranks] lineage"
Granted, this is a leaked precis of a discussion with an unidentified Chinese source written by a US diplomat with no reason to be sympathetic to the Chinese government. However, the recent wave of arrests of Chinese dissidents, including Ai Weiwei, does lend this interpretation some credence. Morevoer, it is somewhat in keeping with the history of other Chinese dictatorships, particularly that of the communist party's immediate predecessors, the Nationalists, whose farming off of state concerns to family connections and essential running of the state as a family business was notorious.
Rather than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) top leadership being divided between reformists and hardliners, as people like, for example, Nick Young have argued, instead it is dominated by people whose main interest is to secure their piece of the PRC pie - some of whom have the advantage of family history. These people will attempt to silence anyone who, like Liu Xiaobo, threatens this by advocating reform which might result in them losing their share of the big PRC carve-up.
This theory leads to an interesting conclusion: Rather than criticism from overseas making it harder for reformers to do their work, instead it helps to highlight the venality of the leadership, and silencing criticism would simply cut off the last source of assistance that those trapped in the present crack-down have.
[Note: Thanks to "Slim" whose comment lead me to the Wikileaks document in question and whose analysis this piece owes much to]