Some Chinese peasants are more equal than others

Article 1 of China’s constitution describes “a socialist state” led by “the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” Squaring that with the reality of its parliament—with 83 delegates worth more than $1 billion—is a sensitive topic for Xi Jinping, who assumes the presidency next week, and has launched a campaign against extravagance and corruption.

The Hurun Global Rich List found 31 billionaires at the National People’s Congress gathering. Another 32 are delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body. The CPPCC’s richest member, with an estimated $32 billion, is Victor Li, who launched the redevelopment of
Vancouver’s Expo lands.

But soaring above other delegates, at least in height, is retired Houston Rocket Yao Ming. It’s in the best interests of the wealthy to keep a hand in politics, Fang Xingyuan Feng of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Financial Times. “When business people amass a fortune they need to protect it,” he said.