Some time ago in the late twentieth century, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping is credited with the slogan "To get rich is glorious." Even though there has been no proof
that Deng actually ever said that, the slogan well represents the transition of China from communism to capitalism. The Chinese prefer to call this socialism with Chinese characteristics. It would be more appropriately called capitalism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese part being that there is still a huge state presence in the economy but those same glorious rich people have close connections with these state enterprises. Another Chinese aspect of this capitalism is that the political system is still dominated by the Communist Party, whereas in other former communist countries turned capitalist, the former communist parties have been relegated to the opposition in most instances.
China is now a playground for the rich, although many rich people often decide it is safer to move their millions elsewhere for example to the US, as shown in an accompanying video. China is BMW's biggest market for the top model 760Li that costs almost $200,000 there, as compared to about half that in the US.
At the recent Communist Party meeting was Wan Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda Group, worth an estimated $10.3 billion, who occupied one of the chairs in the Great Hall of the People. Liang Wengen, whose fortune is estimated at about $7.3 billion, also had his own seat at the meeting. Then there was Zhou Haijian whose specialty is clothing with a $1.3 billion family fortune. These worthies all endorsed the new leadership.
Of course these representatives did not crash the meeting, they are part of the new elite in capitalist China. Under Mao, the Communist Party was mostly populated with loyal party members, often workers, obedient scholars, and military officers, not the millionaires and billionaires who now have key positions in the party.
Wall Street Journal analysis
identified 160 of China's 1,024 richest people as being seated at the Communist Party Congress, the legislature, and an important advisory group called the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The combined wealth of this group is $221 billion.
China's legislature, National People's Congress, may have more very rich representatives than any other legislature. 75 people with seats on the huge 3,000 member legislature are on the list of China's 1,024 richest people. The average net worth of each is more than a billion dollars. The collective wealth of all members of the US Congress was just between $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in 2010.
Mr. Zhou, president of the family owned Hongdou Group, lists 10 political positions on his business card. He said in an interview that his political positions give him opportunities to mix with "diverse elites" including business people, and politicians. Zhou says that every time he has an opportunity he urges state leaders to cut taxes. The situation has changed radically from the situation under Mao when capitalists were considered enemies of the state. For much more detail on the rise of capitalist entrepreneurs within the Chinese government see the full Wall Street Journal article.