‘Like a Lamb to be Slaughtered’

Jun Wang (pseudonym) meets all the criteria of an elite. From a top university to a successful career, he had a reputation, power and wealth. Yet the Shanghai lockdown shattered his hopes for China.

“Stop dreaming. Start to plan your exit. There’s not too much time left,” he said.

“If one didn’t emigrate in 1949 [when the Communist Party took control of China], it’s your grandfather’s fault. If you don’t go out now, your grandson will say it’s your fault.”

I’m from China. I’m 48 years old. I grew up in a small town in the northern part of Jiangsu province. Our town is well known for scoring high on the college entrance exam. … I studied pretty hard to get into a good university.

At that time, China was benefiting from an abundance of manual labor, and the country also joined the WTO (World Trade Organization). … The whole world was being friendly to China. As fresh graduates, we were really hopeful of the future.

Around 2011, China vigorously encouraged private companies to go public. I utilized my experience in multinational companies, seized the opportunity and set up my own private equity fund. We focused on investing in the private sector and were managing up to 5 billion [renminbi, RMB] of funds.

Yet the trend started to change in the past few years. Since 2017, the trend has been going in the opposite direction. There’s increasing control by the day on society as a whole and has now reached a level that we just couldn’t go back. China has exaggerated the danger of the COVID-19 virus for too long, causing countless companies to suffer unbearable losses for the past two to three years. I always think today is hard, yet tomorrow is another day. But no. Turns out that tomorrow might be even worse than today.

China always claims that its government serves the people, yet the rich and politically well connected still control the lifeblood of all walks of life. We all know that we are not the owner of our wealth. This money is never ours. They just temporarily allow that money to be placed in our hands. If they want the money, there are many ways for them to take it.

In the Chinese business circle, there’s a famous saying: Your business is controlled by the criminal law … any of your business. China can use the criminal law to have you hand over your money.

Before, there were ways to transfer your money outside of China. Now, the foreign exchange control basically means you have to leave your assets in China.

All this money can be taken away. The government has lots of debt. Where do they get the money to pay it off? From the pockets of elites. Once they knock on your door, you have to hand over the money. If you understand this point and don’t leave, you are like a lamb to be slaughtered. That’s why runology has become a hot topic, a philosophy with ways to enforce it.

I was born towards the end of the Cultural Revolution. I have never seen my grandma and grandpa on both sides. They didn’t emigrate in 1949. They had family assets then and were labeled as landlords. They believed the propaganda and stayed, but they endured so much hardship through the Great Famine, and through the Cultural Revolution.

Just as one of the famous quotes online say these days: If one didn’t emigrate in 1949 [when the Communist Party took control of China], it’s your grandfather’s fault. If you don’t go out now, your grandson will say it’s your fault. Well, if you still can live long enough to have a grandson.