Xiaomi, Baidu founders among China's wealthiest to take part in key political meetings

Baidu chairman and CEO Robin Li, ranked China's sixth richest man, is now a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Baidu chairman and CEO Robin Li, ranked China's sixth richest man, is now a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Five of China's 10 wealthiest people are due to take part in the Communist party's two major political meetings starting this week, government websites show, highlighting the influence of the country's mega-rich.

The wealthy delegates to the two sessions are often the focus of public attention, with some criticised for showing off their influence and lobbying for favourable policies for their own industries.

The five rank in the top 10 of magazine Hurun's China 2014 rich list.

Third-place drinks tycoon Zong Qinghou, fifth-placed Pony Ma of Internet giant Tencent, and Lei Jun, the head of mobile phone upstart Xiaomi, who took tenth spot, are all delegates to the National People's Congress parliament, according to its website.

Solar energy tycoon Li Hejun - listed in joint third place last year but now described by Hurun as China's richest man - and sixth-ranked Robin Li of Chinese search engine giant Baidu, are both in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a parallel debating body, the latest membership list showed.

Both chambers are part of China's Communist-controlled machinery of government.

The China-based New Culture newspaper reported that among China's top 100 richest people, 15 were NPC delegates and 21 CPPCC members.

The total fortune of the 36 was more than 1.2 trillion yuan (S$260 billion), it added - more than the gross domestic product of Vietnam.

China's unprecedented economic boom has raised hundreds of millions out of poverty but also brought huge income disparities and rampant corruption, with just a few accruing vast wealth.

At previous NPC and CPPCC sessions the government has repeatedly vowed to help the poor and close the wealth gap.

This year's CPPCC session starts on Tuesday and the NPC opens on Thursday.