Trickle-Down Economics for Chinese Officials
The acceptance of a 36% pay cut by the world’s highest paid politician, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has renewed attention to the wide disparity between world leaders’ salaries. Hu Jintao sits near the opposite end of the spectrum to Lee, with an official salary of just $11,000. From Al Jazeera English:
Hu’s salary is low not only in absolute terms, but also by comparison with his country’s per capita GDP. While unusual by international standards, however, it reflects the generally low disclosed pay for other Chinese officials. This presents a politically favourable picture of relative modesty, but masks a range of other benefits and can encourage the less upstanding to augment their income with bribes. At Foreign Policy, Isaac Stone Fish argues that China should beef up official salaries.
… If government statistics are to be believed, Hu makes just over $10,000 a year. Officials at the ministerial level make that same amount, and lower ranking Party apparatchiks can make as little as a few hundred dollars a month. “While the benefits, like housing, are very good, the salary is low, that’s definite,” says Yiyi Lu, a Beijing-based China analyst. Even with benefits, Chinese government salaries encourage corruption by bestowing high power but low salaries on people who have very little transparency over their actions. Whereas in Singapore ministers remain clean in part to keep their seven-figure salaries, in China one always wonders how those officials making, say, $1500 a month can afford those Rolexes.
See also coverage of last year’s exposé of extravagant wristwear by the General Secretary of the Flower and Fruit Mountain, via CDT.