Defying Mao, Rich Chinese Crash the Communist Party – WSJ.com
When the Communist Party elite gathered last month to anoint China’s new leaders, seven of the nation’s richest people occupied coveted seats in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group, worth an estimated $10.3 billion and the recent buyer of U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, took one of the chairs. So did Liang Wengen, with an estimated fortune of $7.3 billion, whose construction-equipment maker Sany Heavy Industry Co. 600031.SH 0.00% competes with Caterpillar Inc. CAT +0.22% Zhou Haijiang, a clothing mogul with an estimated $1.3 billion family fortune, also had a seat. As members of the Communist Party Congress, all three had helped endorse the new leadership.
Explore an interactive database on the political ties of China’s business leaders.
For years the Communist Party in China filled key political and state bodies with loyal servants: proletarian workers, pliant scholars and military officers. Now the door is wide open to another group: millionaires and billionaires.
An analysis by The Wall Street Journal, using data from Shanghai research firm Hurun Report, identified 160 of China’s 1,024 richest people, with a collective family net worth of $221 billion, who were seated in the Communist Party Congress, the legislature and a prominent advisory group called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Guo Guangchang, Fosun Group
China’s legislature, called the National People’s Congress, may boast more very rich members than any other such body on earth. Seventy-five people with seats on the 3,000 member congress appear on Hurun Report’s 2012 list of the richest 1,024, which Hurun says it calculates using public disclosures and estimates of asset values. The average net worth of those 75 people is more than $1 billion.
By comparison, the collective wealth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress was between $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in 2010, according to the most recent analysis of lawmakers’ asset disclosures by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Family Member of Party Leader Strikes Business Deal
China has been grappling of late with political and social tension over its murky policy-making process and its growing income disparity. The party has been especially sensitive this year during the leadership change about revelations about fortunes amassed by the offspring of political leaders, known as “princelings,” by leaders of state businesses and by other politically connected people. Many ordinary Chinese blame high prices, poor quality food and pollution on guanshang guojie—meaning, roughly, officials in bed with businessmen.