Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Socialism with Chinese characteristics: wealth

Rich people, it seems, aren't legislators for the power, but for the protection.

China’s Parliament Is a Growing Billionaires’ Club
In a country where the Communist Party makes all the big decisions, Chinese lawmakers hold very little political power. But they have plenty of money — $650 billion of it — and that’s growing.
Beijing street scene
According to the Hurun Report,… the net worth of the 153 members of China’s Parliament… that it deems “super rich” amounts to $650 billion…

While President Xi Jinping has pledged to close the income gap and alleviate poverty, the wealth of the nation’s lawmakers has kept soaring. In 2017, it topped $500 billion, more than doubling from the year before…

[The NPC session] provides business people with an opportunity to hobnob with one another. The title of delegate also gives them extra cachet in making business deals.

The wealthiest lawmaker is also China’s richest person, Pony Ma, whose net worth is $47 billion. He is the founder of Tencent, which owns WeChat, a social media mobile app that is indispensable in Chinese life. Tencent is now valued at $540 billion, more than Facebook…

The fortunes of China’s entrepreneurs have changed significantly since the Communist Party, which was founded to work for the interests of workers and stamp out capitalism, welcomed business people into the party more than a decade ago…

Victor Shih, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on money and politics in China, said that being a member of the National People’s Congress “affords a considerable protection for the wealthy.”

“If you’re part of the NPC, you become a state cadre, and so the local police can’t arrest you easily without cause,” he said, referring to the congress.

“That’s not the case for a wealthy person who has no affiliation with the Chinese government, and wealth becomes very vulnerable to predatory action by a local government.”

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