Wen Jiabao Sees Billionaires When Communists Convene as Wealth Gap Widens

This Saturday, China’s legislative body, the National People’s Congress, will convene to discuss and formalize China’s new Five Year Plan. But who are China’s Congress members? It may or may not be surprising to find that among them are China’s wealthiest citizens. From Bloomberg News:

The richest 70 of the 2,987 members have a combined wealth of 493.1 billion yuan ($75.1 billion), and include China’s richest man, Hangzhou Wahaha Group Chairman Zong Qinghou, according to the research group Hurun Report. By comparison, the wealthiest 70 people in the 535-member U.S. House and Senate, who represent a country with about 10 times China’s per-capita income, had a maximum combined wealth of $4.8 billion, data from the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics show.

The presence of billionaires in the Congress, which is the highest state legislative body and meets to approve government economic and fiscal plans, is one consequence of the Communist Party’s opening to capitalists to join it a decade ago. The step now risks hampering efforts to tackle inequality, such as higher taxes on upper-income earners, financial disclosures and real- estate levies, said Huang Jing of Singapore National University.

Of course, while it is interesting to analyze the NPC’s make-up, even more consequential will be what the policies it ultimately approves. China Law Blog has a good analysis of the key challenges facing China and how the upcoming Five Year Plan intends to confront them. From China Law Blog:

The goal of the 12th Five Year plan is to prevent China’s growth from stalling. The CPC identifies 10 factors that threaten the continued development of the Chinese economy:

Resource constraints: energy and raw materials.

Mismatch in investment and imbalance in consumption.

Income disparity.

Weakness in capacity for domestic innovation.

Production structure is not rational: too much heavy industry, not enough service.

Agriculture foundation is thin and weak.

Urban/rural development is not coordinated.

Employment system is imbalanced.

Social contradictions are progressively more apparent.

Obstacles to scientific development continue to exist and are difficult to remove

The China Law Blog’s post is worth a read because it also discusses themes and specific measures being proposed. The Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy blogs also provide further discussions of the Five Year Plan. Read more here and here.


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