Daughter of Former Chinese Premier is Demoted

June 9, 2015 Updated: June 10, 2015

Li Xiaolin, the daughter of an ex-Chinese premier and the vice president of a top Chinese state-owned electricity company, was expected to take the top job after a recent company merger. Reports from Chinese media, however, are now claiming Li has been shunted aside to a less prestigious state-run firm.

On June 2, the Chinese state assets regulator’s deputy chief Liu Qiang announced the recently merged company State Power Investment Corporation’s management team—five from China Power Investment Corporation and five from State Nuclear Power Technology Corp—but Li Xiaolin’s name was nowhere to be found, according to Chinese business news publication Caijing.

Those in the electricity industry expected Li, 54, who is sometimes called China’s “Electricity Big Sister” or “Princess Li,” to helm the new firm, which is the third largest operator of nuclear reactors on mainland China, Caijing reports.

Instead, Li was told by Liu Qiang that she had been transferred to China Datang Corporation, a big state-run power firm that relies on coal-fired plants, and will be its vice-president, according to Caijing.

The move amounts to a pointed demotion, and an indication that the generation of Communist Party luminaries that previously enjoyed wealth and prestige under former leaders are getting a cold shoulder by the new Party boss, Xi Jinping. Li Xiaolin is the only daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng, widely held responsible for the massacre of students around Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on June 4, 1989. His association with those killings earned him the sobriquet “Butcher of Beijing.”

Upon hearing Liu Qiang’s announcement, Li reportedly stormed back to her office and slammed the door shut, according to Chinese news site Peng Pai.

Li, who worked at China Power Investment Corporation for 12 years, had wanted to be president of State Power Investment Corporation, according to Hong Kong English language newspaper South China Morning Post, citing a source familiar with the matter.

There is no official confirmation of Li’s new appointment.

If the reports are accurate, however, there’s already an ongoing rumor mill of her alleged corruption to back the promotion oversight.

In a February report, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that Li and her husband owned a Swiss-based HSBC account with $2.48 million in it.

Hong Kong magazine Yazhou Zhoukan reported end February that Li registered an offshore company with HK$10,000 ($1,290) in capital but won a bid to develop five real estate projects in Boao, Hainan Province worth over 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion). Li told pro-Beijing, Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po that the Yazhou Zhoukan report is completely fictitious and her company never planned to get involved in real estate.

In October 2013, British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Li helped broker a deal for foreign insurance institutions to enter the Chinese market years before they were allowed to enter the field. China Power International Corporation responded in a post on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service, that Li “has no personal contact with and doesn’t know anyone from the insurance companies.”