China's stupendous economic growth over the past decade has led to an increase in its billionaire population, with many of the richest in the country belonging to the political elite.
China's National People's Congress (NPC), its highest legislative body, has 2,987 deputies elected from the ruling Communist Party and some of them are the wealthiest businesspeople in the world.
The 75 richest members have an average net worth of $1.2 billion. In comparison, the median net worth of U.S. Congress members is less than $1 million, according to a report in the The New York Timeslate last year. Also, the average net worth of these 75 richest NPC members is $284 million more than the average wealth of China's 1,000 richest people.
The vast wealth of these congress members comes largely from booming sectors like real estate, consumer goods, mining and agriculture.
We've put together a list of the 10 richest members of the NPC based on the Hurun Report, which began its annual China rich list 14 years ago. The individual fortunes listed are as of Aug. 15, 2011.
Click ahead to find out who are China's wealthiest government officials.
By Rajeshni Naidu-GhelaniPosted 20 March 2012
Fortune: $2.05 billion
Company: Risun Group
Yang Xuegang, who has been a member of the NPC since 2008, is the chairman and president of the Risun Group — a global producer and supplier of coal, coke and chemical products.
Beijing-based Risun was founded in 1995, and has four industrial parks and over 10 coal and chemical subsidiaries and joint ventures. According to the company's website, the provincial Hebei government "supports" it in its efforts to improve chemical technology and conserve energy.
Last year, the company announced a joint venture with Boston-based Cabot to build a carbon black manufacturingfacility in the southern Xingtai city with an investment of $100 million. There were also reports that Risun was planning a Hong Kong IPO in 2011, although there has been no filing to date.
Yang's wife Lu Xiaomei is among China's top 10 richest women,according to the Hurun report. Her wealth comes from her husband's privately owned company.
Fortune: $2.05 billion
Company: China Zhongwang Holdings
Chinese billionaire Liu Zhongtian is the founder and chairman of China Zhongwang Holdings — Asia's largest producer by capacity of aluminum extrusion products. He is in his second five-year term in the NPC, of which he has been a member since 2003.
In 1993, at age 29, Liu founded China Zhongwang in the northeastern province of Liaoning. The company made its debut in Hong Kong in 2009. Liu's 74 percent stake in his company catapulted his net worth to over $3.5 billion after the listing raised $1.3 billion — making him China's richest person in 2009.
Within six months, the company was forced to conduct an external review of its IPOafter media reports alleged it had misrepresented certain parts of its prospectus. Trading of its stocks on the Hong Kong Exchange was halted for a month during the review. The company was cleared of wrongdoing.
In 2010, China Zhongwang's sales were hit by a U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing investigation, which saw its revenue slump29 percent that year. This resulted in the company's stock falling, which in turn led to Liu losing 34 percent of his wealth in 2010, according to the Hurun Report.
The business tycoon, who has a diploma from Liaoning Radio and TV University, is also an executive member of the Communist Party's All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce and has won several government awards like the "Builder of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics."
Fortune: $2.13 billion
Company: Nanshan Group
Song Zuowen is president of Nanshan Group, which has nearly 60 subsidiaries and controls one of China's largest aluminum manufacturers — Shandong Nanshan Aluminum. He has also been a member of China's legislature since 2003.
Nanshan was founded in 1978 by a group of villagers in Shandong province, under Song's leadership. Today, the group runs businesses in energy, construction, education and tourism. The company has two Shanghai-listed subsidiaries — Shandong Nanshan Fabric and Garment, and Shandong Nanshan Aluminum.
Last year, Nanshan Aluminum announced a plan to build a manufacturing plantin the U.S. state of Indiana at a cost of $161 million. Nanshan Aluminum posted an over 30 percent year-on-year increase in net profits in 2011.
Song has a 49 percent stake in the group, according to Forbes. His eldest son Song Jianbo has been the chairman of Nanshan Aluminum since 1999, the year it went public.
Song Zuowen started the Yantai Nanshan University in his coastal hometown of Longkou in 1999. He was among the 10 most influential people in China's private education sector in 2006, according to the Ministry of Education.
Fortune: $2.29 billion
Company: ANTA Sports Products
Ding Shizhong, 42, is the youngest person on the list of China's 10 richest billionaire NPC members. He has been in the Congress since 2008.
Ding, a high school dropout, started selling sports shoes when he was 17 and set up his own company in 1991. He joined ANTA in 1994and is today its executive chairman and CEO and the driving force behind the company's success in China's competitive sports goods market.
In 2008, Ding won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Yearaward in the consumer products category for his achievements in building ANTA into one of China's most recognizable brands.
Banking on China's growing retail sector, the Hong Kong-listed firm operated 7,700 outlets in 2011, opening 229 new stores that year. ANTA has made headlines in the past couple of years for securing sponsorship of star athletes like the American basketball player Kevin Garnett, as well as acquiring rights to the Fila trademark in mainland China.
Despite the company reporting a 12 percent rise in 2011 profits,many analysts hold a negative outlook for sportswear firms in general and expect ANTA to suffer from high retail discounts, inventory clean-up and intense competition this year.
Ding has been a member of the Organizing Committee of All-China Sports Federation since 2009 and deputy chairman of the China Sporting Goods Federation since 2010.
Fortune: $2.61 billion
Company: Fosun Group
Guo Guangchang, a member of the NPC since 2003, is co-founder and chairman of China's largest private conglomerate, the Fosun Group.
Guo and three fellow university graduates founded the Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company in 1992 with only $4,000. The business has gone on to have operations in property development, steel, mining, finance and retail to name a few.
Known as the "Chinese Hutchison" after the sprawling Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, Fosun works like a private equity fund, buying assets on the cheap and selling them via public listings. To date it has invested in more than 100 companies. Foshan International, listed in Hong Kong since 2007, is the holding company of the Fosun Group.
In 2010, Fosun bought a 7 percent stake in resort operatorClub Med — the first time a listed Chinese company bought a direct stake in a listed French firm. Last year, the Fosun Group also marked another first when it won approval along with the U.S. financial group Prudential to set up a joint life insurance venturein China, which will be the only one of its kind in the country between a nonstate owned company and a foreign firm.
Guo, who has been an admirer of U.S. investment tycoon Warren Buffet, is often referred to as "China's Buffet."During this year's March NPC meeting, he made headlines advocating issues like legalizing private lendingand banning the consumption of shark fin soup at government events.
Fortune: $3.32 billion
Company: Yurun Group
Zhu Yicai is chairman of one of the largest meat suppliers in mainland China. He is also among six Chinese billionaires who are less than 50 years old on the top 10 list of the country's richest lawmakers.
Zhu founded the Nanjing-based business with his wife, Wu Xueqin, in 1993 and went on to acquire several state-owned meat processing plants. The group now has more than 200 subsidiaries in over 30 provinces. Despite expanding quickly in a short period of time, the company took a big hit in June 2011 when its Hong Kong listed shares saw their biggest drop ever of 20 percenton rumors that it was the next target of widely followed whistleblower Muddy Waters on accounting irregularities.
Then in September 2011, the company confirmed media reports that one of its hogs had tested positive for clenbuterol,an illegal additive in pig feed that helps keep the meat lean. Ongoing safety worries, coupled with rising labor and pork costs saw the company post a 34 percent declinein 2011 net profit.
Zhu has been a two-time deputy in the NPC, serving since 2003. Despite safety worries over his own products, Zhu has submitted several proposals to the government to create legislation that would ensure agricultural product safetyand quality. In 2011, he called for strengthening the safety managementprocesses for food products within five years.
Fortune: $3.79 billion*
Company: Sichuan Hongda Group
Liu Canglong is the chairman of Sichuan Hongda Group, one of China's largest zinc and lead producers.
Founded in 1979, as a small fertilizer mill in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the group now owns 37 companies in five sectors — including real estate, finance and tourism. The group has controlling shares in two listed firms — Sichuan Jinglu Group on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Sichuan Hongda Co. on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Last August, subsidiary Sichuan Hongda Co. announced plans to build a $1.64 billion molybdenum-copper refineryby 2015.
Liu holds a 70 percent stake in the group, with his brother Liu Hailongholdingthe remaining 30 percent. Liu's son Jun is president and director of the Hongda Group. In September, the Hongda Co. signed a $3 billion dealwith Tanzanian state-run firm National Development Corp. to mine coal and iron ore, in what is the single biggest investment deal to date in east Africa.
As a member of the NPC, Liu has advocated for legislation to make it easier for Chinese companies to do business internationallyand promote investment abroad.
*The figure is the combined wealth of brothers Liu Canglong and Liu Hailong, who control the group, according to the Hurun Report.
Fortune: $4.74 billion
Company: Wanxiang Group
Lu Guanqiu, a member of the NPC since 1987, is founder and president of China's largest auto parts manufacturer, Wanxiang Group.
Lu and six other farmers co-founded the company in 1969 with $500 in the eastern city of Hangzhou. The privately held group has become one of China's largest conglomerates with operations in eight countries and a workforce of more than 45,000 people worldwide.
Its businesses now include finance, renewable energy, agriculture, real estate and private equity. Lu's only son and heir apparent is the CEO of the group, while three sons-in-law also hold executive positions, including one who heads the manufacturer's U.S. division founded in 1994. Wanxiang America's yearly sales of more than $2 billion make it one of the most successful Chinese companies to go abroad.
Lu was one of