Much of the intrigue and inside stories about Chinese politicians, past and present, are covered in "A Death In The Lucky Holiday Hotel" by Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang, a thrilling documentation of the downfall of Bo Xilai and the personalities involved. Most fascinating of all, is the insight into a unique coterie of favoured sons known as "the princelings".
Following the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989, Deng Xiaoping was quoted as saying, "Nobody is more reliable than our own children. We need our children to protect the red China that we have established." At that gathering to discuss leadership succession, veterans including Bo Xilai's father agreed in a secret deal that the government should pick one child from the family of each veteran leader who had fought with Mao during the 1940s revolution and gradually elevate him to the equivalent of a vice minister or higher in the government and the military:
"This special group of senior leaders' children were the original princelings. Over the next two decades, the princeling definition was expanded to include children of all senior leaders, national and regional, and the princelings have emerged as a formidable political faction. At the recently concluded Party Congress in November 2011, three have made it to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body." (page 93)
We don't know what Goh Chok Tong was alluding to when he said succession planning has long been a part of the Government's DNA. Maybe it was just a poor choice of words, like his recent phrase about "dropping the ball" after someone had his prostate gland removed. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms, solid fuel for the nature versus nurture argument. The White Horse special treatment during national service has not been forgotten. Makes you wonder what other secret deals are under wraps.