Australians should think twice before diving back into the Chinese economic waters in the wake the Covid pandemic. This is according to Daily Mail Australia to a Chinese entrepreneur, whose ex-wife was an enviable billionaire.

Desmond Shum wrote a chilling insider account about what it was like to negotiate high-level business deals in Xi Jinping’s ruthless one-man dictatorship.

The book, Red Roulette, gives a brutally honest perspective of what companies and entrepreneurs can expect to face in China once its borders reopen – as a crackdown on non state-owned entities intensifies.

After more than a decade in double-digit growth, the nation experienced a surge of economic prosperity. The 2000s saw a stampede made of billionaires.

Whitney Duan and Mr Shum, a politically connected couple made a dramatic rise to the top. 

Chinese Billionaire Whitney Duan (pictured in Tiananmen Square during the 1990s) who was snatched off the street by Beijing's secret police in September 2017 and held without charge for four years, cut off from any contact with her friends, family and young son

Whitney Duan, Chinese billionaire (pictured at Tiananmen Square in the 1990s), was abducted by Beijing’s secret Police in September 2017. She was held indefinitely without charge and cut off all contact with her son and friends for the next four years.

Desmond Shum (pictured on a private jet with his son) just penned a chilling insider's account of what it's like to navigate high-level business deals under Xi Jinping's ruthless 'one-man dictatorship'

Desmond Shum (photo taken on a private aircraft with his son) has written a chilling insider’s report about what it was like to manage high-level business transactions under Xi Jinping’s ruthless one-man dictatorship.

The couple was so rich at the time that they were able to fly to Paris in 2011 with three other Communist Party members and their wives. They also took three private planes.

They decided that it would be fun to play card on the trip so everyone piled in to the single jet, while the other two private aircrafts flew empty to Europe.

However, having so much wealth in China could be very dangerous, especially if one is not in the Communist Party’s favor, said Mr Shum. 

According to Mr Shum, this was what happened in the case of Whitney Duan, his ex-wife. Whitney Duan was taken off the streets by Beijing’s secret police September 2017. She was held for four years without charges, and cut off from her family, friends and son.

He said, “There’s a lot tension among Communist Party factions. We became political roadkill.”

“I fled China with my son in 2015. We would talk a few times per week, but then suddenly our calls stopped being answered.” The authorities never explained to her why she was taken into custody and have never tried to prosecute her. 

Mr Shum and his politically connected wife Whitney Duan (pictured together in Switzerland, 2004) embodied the rise of China, minting themselves about US$3billion by charming their way into lucrative Chinese stock IPOs and developing a vast real estate network including one of Beijing's most lavish hotels and the largest air cargo logistics facility in China

Whitney Duan, Mr Shum’s politically connected wife, was pictured in Switzerland in 2004. They were the embodiment of the rise to China.

Mr Shum accused his government of targeting and silencing rich business people in his new memoir, 'Red Roulette: An Insider's Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today's China'

In his memoir, titled ‘Red Roulette, An Insider’s Account of Wealth, Power and Corruption in Today’s China, Shum accuses his government of targeting rich businesspeople and suppressing them.


Peng Shuai, 2021: The professional tennis player’s whereabouts is unknown after she spoke out about sexual assault at the hands of former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

Zhao Wei, 2021: The actress and social media influencer disappeared following Xi Jinping’s ‘virtue before artistry’ crackdown on young creators. 

Jack Ma in 2020After publicly criticizing China’s draconian banking system, the billionaire Ecommerce tycoon is rarely heard from again. 

Cheng Lei, 2020:For more than one year, CNBC’s Chinese-Australian business anchor has been missing from Beijing. 

Ren Zhiqiang, 2020:After speaking out against CCP’s treatment of Covid pandemics, the former Chairman of Huayuan Real Estate Group got snatched away and sentenced for 18 months on financial fraud charges. 

Fan Bingbing 2018, 2018After staring in the Hollywood movie franchise X-men, the actress vanished. She then made a public apology for ‘owing taxes to China’.    

Wang Quanzhang, 2015:Before being sentenced for “subverting the state power”, the human rights lawyer vanished. 

Ai Weiwei, 2011:After criticizing the government, the high-profile artist disappeared for several months.       

The political world of China dictates the success of the Chinese business community. Anyone who is interested in being successful must be associated with Communist Party.

With a remarkable skill set, Ms Duan forged alliances with Wen Jiabao’s family and Zhang Peili’s political titan husband with “unimaginable success”.

M. Shum wrote that Whitney was happy to spend thousands of dollars at Lei Garden, the Michelin-starred restaurant located on Jinbao Street. He also enjoyed schmoozing and talking with politicians.

He stated, “It was only the cost of doing business with China in 2000s.”

Our favourite meal was the sea bass ($500 per pop) and the fish soup ($1000).

It was dominated by the Chinese idea of “face”. 

“Everybody was aware that the price of the soup, and the vegetables were outrageously high. But it is precisely this fact which put a smile on the faces of our guests.”

However, the high-stakes games eventually fell apart when China under President-forlife Xi Jinping started to crackdown on wealthy investors, fearing that they would become too powerful and threaten the control of the communist system.

Shum says the same thing could occur to international business tourists if China’s borders are reopened in 2023.

‘I think as a tourist it would not be a clear safety problem but when it comes to business that is a very different issue,’ he said.

“Many businesses who attempt to withdraw their funds and invest in other areas of Asia, such as China, run into problems from the Chinese refusing to let them take their money.

“So, your records might show that you have assets of $10 million in China. But the second you attempt to withdraw that money from it, you may find that that money is no longer yours. 

“And considering the ongoing deterioration in relations between Beijing, the West and Australia, I believe that Australian businesses should think twice before going there.” 

The business world in China is dictated by political power, anybody who wants to be successful 'needs to be associated with the Communist Party'. Pictured: Desmond Shum (left) after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in the US and returning to Hong Kong to become a stockbroker

China’s business environment is governed by the political system. Anyone who wishes to succeed in China’s stockbroking industry must be associated with Communist Party. After graduating at the University of Wisconsin, Desmond Shum returned to Hong Kong as a stockbroker.

Being wealthy in in China can be extremely dangerous, particularly if you fall out of favour with the Communist Party or align yourself with the wrong faction. Pictured: Mr Shum in high school is given an award for swimming

It is possible to become very wealthy in China, especially if your political affiliations are not with the Communist Party. Pictured is Mr Shum, a high school student who was awarded an award for swimming.


*The couple racked up a fortune of about US$3billion and scoured the globe collecting gemstones, rare wines and art. 

*Whitney spent US$15million on a single pink diamond and US$5 million on a painting.

*On a daily basis they would spend a measly $1000 on fish soup for lunch, dining at the Michelin starred Lei Garden restaurant on the glitzy Jinbao Street in Beijing.

*Desmond once paid US$500,000 for a rare Swiss watch so detailed in took two years to build. He received the seventh F.P. Journe timepiece and it’s rumoured Vladimir Putin snatched up second. 

*Whitney paid a huge import tax to ship over a Rolls Royce, while Desmond owned a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. 

*The pair once flew to Europe on a private jet with three politically-connected couples as two other private planes followed empty.

*They once enjoyed a night of wine tasting at the Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, where the cost for one person is a staggering US$100,000.   


China’s early 2000s saw economic growth driven by entrepreneurs and market capitalism. However, Mr Shun said that leaders in businesses were not to be trusted. 

He stated that the Communist Party had used certain elements of society since 1949 when it seized power. Then, it discarded these parts when necessary.

“The Party is almost animal-like in its desire to control and repress and the Party will do so whenever it has the opportunity.”

China is a difficult country to conduct business. This happens because the laws passed by the one-party government are retroactive.

These unregulated events, even if they occurred decades ago, can still be considered criminals in the future.

During Xi’s rise to power (2013), the party arrested 2.7million officials in a unprecedented corruption’ crackdown. Before he eliminated presidential term limits in 2018,

“When he created it, I thought that the system was so corrupt some sort of cleansing was necessary. But as he purge all these bureaucrats and replaced them with loyalists to do his bidding,” Mr Shum stated.

Xi believes that this country is on a dangerous course. It is likely that the country will go downhill.

Xi is China’s one-man dictatorship. It was once a one party dictatorship that concentrated power on a handful of men. Now it is a one man dictatorship.

“He has wiped out all legal successors.”

The publication of Mr Shum’s Red Roulette, An Insider’s Account of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance In Today’s China, in September, has attracted high praise from Chinese-focused academics as well literary critics. 

Pictured: Desmond Shum rallies alongside Hong Kong anti-China protesters in 2019 - the place where he spent his teenage years after moving from BeijingD

Pictured: Desmond Shum joins Hong Kong anti China protesters in 2019. This is where he spent most of his teenage years following his move from Beijing.

Desmond Shum and Whitney Duan are pictured with their son in Mongolia during 2013

Whitney Duan and Desmond Shum are seen with their son, in Mongolia, during 2013.

The Communist Party has banned the memoir in China, not surprising.

Whitney was released despite all the resistance.

“When I wrote this book, it was certainly one of my wishes,” Mr Shum stated.

“I had hoped that the spotlight would improve her situation, so when she came out due to the book, I thought that it was incredible.”