China’s growing list of billionaire politicians

Their richest lawmakers make the U.S. Congress look poor

To be a politician is glorious

How Hwee Young/EPA/Corbis

For all the concern over income inequality in the U.S., activists may want to turn their attention to China, whose growing list of billionaire politicians makes the U.S. Congress look practically impoverished.

Last year, the richest 70 members of China’s legislature, the 3,000-seat National People’s Congress, added $11.5 billion to their net worth, according to Shanghai’s Hurun Report. That increase is more, on its own, than the total net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the President, his cabinet and all nine Supreme Court justices combined. Bloomberg estimates the top 600 U.S. officials are worth about $7.5 billion. That’s no small potatoes in a country constantly accusing its politicians of being out of touch with the middle class. But it’s peanuts compared to China, where the richest six dozen lawmakers had a net worth totalling nearly $90 billion. While Mitt Romney’s vast fortune, estimated at $200 million, has become an obsession, he would practically be a pauper in China’s legislature. Zong Qinghou, its richest lawmaker, is estimated to be worth $5.6 billion.

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