Red Roulette is a book written by Hong Kong businessman Mr. Desmond Shum (also known as Shum Dong), who currently resides in Taiwan. The recent publication of this best-selling book has generated widespread interest throughout the region, with significant media outlets competing for a chance to interview and cover this event. During his book launch and various scheduled interviews, Mr. Shum mentioned Hong Kong several times, but the media has failed to respond and remains silent.
The English version of Red Roulette was first published in 2021 and has sold 3 million copies. In Red Roulette, the author reveals the lavish lifestyles of the topmost influential families of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) top officials, the inner workings of power and money deals, the bloody tug-of-war in the power arena, and the author’s struggles as a private entrepreneur wishing to develop projects and promote democracy in China.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Receive selected content straight into your inbox.
Mr. Shum reveals the thinking of the second and third generations who inherited the red bloodline of the CCP. Firstly, they must defend the CCP to death; only when the CCP is in power can they maintain eternal power and wealth. Secondly, they discriminate against other senior officials who don’t possess the same background as the high-ranking officials of the CCP, treating them like housekeepers. Thirdly, they aim to ensure their state-owned enterprises grow bigger by sidelining and crowding out private-owned enterprises.
On how the CCP unified and manipulated Hong Kong, Mr. Shum stated in Red Roulette that it was mainly about self-interest. To get a share of the pie during China’s golden age of economic development, Hong Kong businessmen acquired businesses on the mainland.
To do business on the mainland, Hong Kong businessmen had to collude with senior Chinese Communist Party officials and ally with their interests. In an interview, Mr. Shum cited a personal example of such collisions.
He had been a member of the Beijing CCP for 10 years, and the first and second in command of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government had dealings with him. Mr. Shum witnessed how the senior officials of the Central People’s Government, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the Liaison Office), and Hong Kong’s business community got together and helped match their investments in Mainland China.
This revelation was incredulous to Mr. Shum as it meant that the Hong Kong business community could influence the Liaison Office, which in turn directly influenced the governance of the Hong Kong government. In other words, the business sector in Hong Kong, especially those few prominent families with influence and power, became the shadow government of Hong Kong and was making the policies.
Red Roulette further reveals that in 2014, when the “Occupy Movement” took place in Hong Kong, on the advice of a friend in Beijing, Mr. Shum wrote an article advising the authorities on how to deal with the Hong Kong issue and sent it to Xi Jinping’s office via his connections; he failed to receive a response.
Another insight revealed that previously, the Liaison Office controlled the Hong Kong Legislative Council’s functional constituency. On the eve of the Legislative Council election, the Liaison Office would give orders to the pro-establishment members in each group to elect Legislative Council members approved by the authorities.
Mr. Shum wrote, according to the red genes of the CCP, that the top leaders will not and do not want China to further reform and open up and transform into a democratic China. In the view of the CCP power class, both the West and the private sector target to be cut. The CCP believes that the West is bent on subverting the Communist regime, that private entrepreneurs are not their people, and that only state-owned enterprises are red.
He further stated that Deng Xiaoping was forced to reform and open up the country in the 1980s because China went bankrupt then, and the only way out was to use the West and private enterprises to save the economy. Around 2008, when China’s economy was booming, the Chinese Communist Party planned to “Advance the State and Retreat the People.” Mr. Shum believes that the golden age of the Chinese economy has passed, and its economy is now weak.
In 2019, when protests broke out in Hong Kong, Mr. Shum had already moved to the UK However, he made a point of returning to Hong Kong to participate in the million-person march in June and returning in November to vote for the District Council elections. He said that he had predicted that the Chinese Communist Party would not compromise and that the march and vote were his way of making a statement as a Hong Kong citizen.
Mr. Shum revealed that one of the motivations for publishing Red Roulette came from the 2019 protests, where he was moved by the protest, highlighting the courage and enormous sacrifice Hong Kong’s youth had endured.
He admits to worrying about his safety once Red Roulette is published. His former wife, Duan Weihong, disappeared in September 2017, though Mr. Shum said she had reached out shortly before Red Roulette’s release to urge him to stop.
‘Red Roulette’ defied the CCP’s power
However, all he could do in the face of a sinister government was to put aside his fears and do the right thing. Mr. Shum described Red Roulette as a book that defied the Chinese Communist Party’s power and was published “out of the blue,” encouraging readers to join in the fight against the Chinese Communist Party’s strong-arm tactics.
Born in Shanghai in 1968, Shum Dong (Desmond Shum) settled in Hong Kong with his parents at 10. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and EMBA degrees from Northwestern University in the U.S. and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is also an Honorary Trustee of Tsinghua University in Beijing.
A former Beijing Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member and recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Henry M. Kron Scholar Award. The Aspen Institute awarded him the Henry Crown Fellowship.