By Markus Pohlmann
The anti-corruption campaign in China today has many faces. One is that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is now putting in crosshairs some of its officials’ beloved playthings, which are also cultivated by the state’s economic leaders and managers. One eminent victim is the practice of concubinage among high-ranking officials as well as senior managers of state-owned enterprises (SoEs). Whoever believes that concubines were part of China’s feudal past is wrong. Although concubinage was outlawed in China in 1950 when the first Marriage Law took effect, ‘secondary wives’ are part of everyday lives of many high-ranking officials and senior managers in contemporary Communist China. Polygamy, particularly polygyny, has a history of millennia in China. Despite its legal prohibition, the tradition itself remains in good order. Some ethnic minorities in mainland China, as well as residents in Hong Kong and Macao, have practiced it rather uninterruptedly. For example, Stanley Ho, the 95-year-old billionaire casino baron from Macau, maintains intimate relations and fathers children with four women at the same time. Since the 1980s, many Hongkongese have had concubines in nearby Shenzhen and Dongguan.