The red machine

In his fascinating account of the Chinese communist Party, Richard McGregor describes a particular telephone found on the desk of a few and select Chinese: the red machine.

The devices are part of an encrypted, closed system connecting the 300 or so top party officials who run China. They are also given to the CEOs of the 50-or-so largest state-owned enterprises, ensuring that top management does get out of touch with the Party’s leadership.

As a sign of the times, in some large state-owned enterprises another artefact sits next to the antiquitated device: a screen giving the stockprice of the firm’s overseas listed entities!