Millionaires & Billionaires

China’s parliament has about 100 billionaires, according to data from the Hurun Report

A group of hostesses use a mobile phone to take a picture in front of the Great Hall of the People during the 2nd plenary session of the National People's Congress in Beijing on March 9, 2016.
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

Want to rub elbows with the rich? Go to China, where the country's parliament could pass for an elite club of the world's richest, where about 100 delegates are U.S. dollar billionaires.

They made their fortune in everything from property to energy, according to data from the Hurun Report, which publishes the China Rich List. A bunch of tech entrepreneurs sit at the top of the list, including Pony Ma of Tencent, Robin Li of Baidu and Lei Jun of Xiaomi.

The names are among delegates gathering for their annual meeting in Beijing starting on Friday, a roughly weeklong affair that's big on posturing, but small on legislating. Delegates always vote to approve proposals from the ruling Communist Party.

Here's another fun fact: The richest 209 parliament delegates are each worth more than 2 billion yuan ($300 million) – their combined wealth is equivalent to the annual GDPs of Belgium and Sweden, using World Bank figures on GDP for those countries.

By comparison, the U.S. doesn't have a single billionaire in Congress. The wealthiest member, California Republican Darrell Issa, is worth around $440 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

President Donald Trump claims he is a billionaire, though he has refused to release his income taxes to prove it - breaking with a practice followed by U.S. leaders since Richard Nixon.

China's billionaire lawmakers
China's billionaire lawmakers

Still, China's parliament -- made up of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference – includes delegates from a wide variety of backgrounds, including those who benefited handsomely as China's economy has grown into the world's second largest.

But there's another reason to show up -- these sessions of China's "rubber stamp" parliament are a chance to see and be seen. In a country where business and commerce are tightly restricted, a chance to rub elbows with top Communist Party brass could mean the difference between boom and bust.

In 2015, China officially became home to the world's most number of billionaires, surpassing the U.S., according to Hurun. At one point last year, China was creating a new billionaire nearly every week, based on an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Bottom line: If you want to meet a billionaire, come visit Beijing!

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