China has fewer rich lawmakers but their fortunes have grown

HONG KONG - Fewer of the delegates to this year's meeting of China's ceremonial parliament are super-wealthy but their net worth is greater than that of last year's attendees, a report said Friday.

The National People's Congress and its advisory body will meet in Beijing next week.

The Hurun Report found that the two bodies had a total of 152 delegates who are each worth at least 2 billion yuan ($31 million), down from 209 individuals in 2017. The collective wealth of the richest attendees amounts to 4.1 trillion yuan ($650 billion), up by nearly a fifth from 3.5 trillion yuan the previous year.

Under President Xi Jinping, China's communist leaders have launched a marathon corruption crackdown targeting wealthy businesspeople, raising fears about the political fortunes of the country's elite. Just this week, news reports said investigators have detained oil tycoon Ye Jianming, chairman of CEFC Energy, for questioning while last month authorities said they will prosecute Wu Xiaohui, founder of Chinese insurer Anbang, for financial offences.

At the same time, some of China's richest citizens are members of the roughly 3,000-strong NPC and the advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Heading the list is Pony Ma Huateng, CEO of internet giant Tencent Holdings. The second richest NPC member is Li Shufu, chairman of automaker Geely, which last month revealed that it acquired a nearly 10 per cent stake in Germany's Daimler.

Delegates are chosen every five years, most recently this year. High turnover between last year's group and the new NPC attendees is one big reason for the ranking's changes, said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun's chairman and chief researcher.

He added that delegates don't have the same power they do in other legislatures.

"It would be a misnomer to compare it to a congressman or a senator. These individuals all have full time jobs themselves," he said.


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