XiongAn New Area’s Gold Rush Shows Guanxi Still Trumps Everything In China

At 6:03pm on April Fools' Day, China's state news agency Xinhua quietly published a terse statement on behalf of the country's Communist Party leadership and the State Council: The country is to establish a XiongAn New Area in Hebei province as part of a 1,000-year national strategic priority.

The 1,353-word announcement set off a gold rush as investors flooded the sleepy counties about 100 kilometers southwest of downtown Beijing to buy property, the safest and best asset to bet on the rise of a planned economic Chinese miracle.

But for those well-connected few, this is merely old news. As property prices skyrocketed in a matter of hours, these individuals with strong "Guanxi", or connections, are leisurely sipping tea with big grins on their faces. Four months ago, a group of investors from Beijing emerged out-of-blue in XiongAn and purchas...

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