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Red Roulette

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Red Roulette

An Insider's Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today's China


15 min read
8 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

He reached the apex of Chinese society; now he’s exposing its flaws.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging
  • Insider's Take


Totalitarian systems, however noble their founding myths, descend into corruption due to flaws in human nature. In this brave, damning exposé of business and politics in China, Desmond Shum – an examplar of success in the new China – describes with unflinching honesty the world’s second largest economy. Through effective state direction, China has thus far succeeded in the catch-up phase of its economic development. But Shum questions whether it can progress without a separation of powers and other legal, political and business standards that can better keep in check its greedy, flawed elites.


Desmond Shum’s international background helped him become successful in China.

Desmond Shum was born in Shanghai in 1968, but he moved with his family to Hong Kong when he was a child. In 1989, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in the United States to study finance and accounting. Shum’s experience of living abroad gave him a valuable mix of business knowledge and social skills.

Shum worked first as a stockbroker in Hong Kong and then for a private equity firm, which rode the boom in inward investment in the 1990s. At the age of 29, he was back in mainland China as the CEO of a company involved in business services and internet hardware, but he quit when the tumultuous market changed.

Shum married Whitney Duan, a capable, accomplished and ambitious businessperson.

In 2001, through his links with his former job, Shum met Whitney Duan, who was the imposing and accomplished head of her own company. Duan’s first job had been as an assistant to a university president. She showed talent and got the opportunity to work for a county government, in charge of bringing investment...

About the Author

Desmond Shum currently lives with his son in the United Kingdom.

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