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China’s Wealthiest Lawmakers Worth More Than Most Countries Make In A Year

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The combined wealth of China’s wealthiest lawmakers exceeds the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report.

The wealthiest 100 members of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the richest 100 members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) are collectively worth $507 billion, reports the Financial Times. The top 100 lawmakers experienced 64 percent increase in their net worth over the past four years, Reuters introduced. Not only is the combined wealth of these delegates just below Sweden’s annual GDP, but with an annual growth rate of roughly 13 percent, their total wealth is growing faster than China’s economy, the stock market, domestic home prices, and wages.

The Communist Party of China, which once condemned capitalism, invited businessmen into the fold in 2002, and now, private entrepreneurs make up 20 percent of the thousands members of China’s parliament, the New York Times revealed. The richest delegates in parliament are all in business.

After taking office in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption campaign to weed out corrupt government officials. Since the campaign began, over one million officials have been investigated and punished for corruption. While the change encourages China’s wealthiest members of society to keep their heads down, positions in the NPC and CPPCC are highly sought after, since they allow the wealthy to show both patriotism and loyalty. Government also offers a certain degree of political protection, as well as access to political leaders and opportunities to boost their reputation.

And, having wealthy businessmen on board works well for the Communist Party, too.

“Giving the extremely wealthy a position in parliament kind of helps ensure their loyalty and it gives them a vested interest in the success of the party,” Rory Truex, an assistant professor at Princeton, explained to Reuters.

The “two sessions,” the meetings of the NPC and the CPPCC,  will begin this week.

Among the wealthy who are expected to gather in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing are Pony Ma, the chief executive of Tencent Holdings, one of China’s largest tech and social media companies; Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, a phone maker; and Robin Li, the founder of Chinese internet giant Baidu.

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