Yao Ming Joins Shanghai Political Body

Former NBA star Yao Ming, who retired last summer and returned to China to enroll in Shanghai Jiaotong University, posted up as a new member of the standing committee of Shanghai’s political advisory body on Monday. From The China Daily:

“There are about 142 members in the group, and Yao is the youngest,” said Kong Rong, who works in the service office of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Shanghai Committee.

Yao is not the first Chinese sports star to become a Shanghai political adviser. Former Chinese female football star striker Sun Wen took up this job five years ago.

“Yao said the new title shows trust coming from the people in the city. He had said before that once he decides to do something, he will try his best to accomplish it. So we can trust him that he can balance all aspects of his work and study, and do well in this job,” said Yao’s spokesman Zhang Chi.

But Zhang denied that Yao has any ambitions to have a “political career”.

“The responsibilities for a CPPCC member include offering political consultation, and supervision. What Yao wants is to use his influence to do good deeds for society but not to seek a political position,” Zhang said.

Yao has kept busy since his return to China – Besides his studies and his new role in politics, he has also taken aim at China’s booming wine market. The China Daily also reported on Monday that the first batch of Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ready for sale at RMB 3,800 (~US$600) per magnum, though none of the 1,200 available bottles can be found on the open market:

Some experts said Yao’s wine might not be available in traditional open markets and will only be distributed among higher-end consumers. Compared with other well-known imported wines, it will be easy for Yao to establish brand awareness.

However, experts warn that celebrities need to pay attention to the quality of wine to maintain custom and establish a good reputation.

“For Yao Ming, it was a good marketing strategy to create his own-brand wine. However, it will take a long time for customers to recognize the intrinsic value of the wine and believe it is worthwhile buying,” said Shu.

“As a Chinese person, I think it will be better for Yao to invest in white liquor. The market demand for white liquor in China is much larger than for red wine.