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Mr. Liang Goes To Beijing: China's Richest Man Enters Politics

Liang Wengen, founder of industrial giant Sany, will stand as a candidate for the Communist Party Central Committee. It is a sign that the status of the entire group of Chinese private entrepreneurs is rapidly changing.

Liang Wengen (rt) meets with a local Chinese politician (sany)
Liang Wengen (rt) meets with a local Chinese politician (sany)
Kai Yue

Liang Wengen, China's richest businessman, is going into politics. This is not just a personal success for Liang, but also a breakthrough for the entire Chinese private-sector economy.

Liang Wengen is a candidate as an alternate member of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee (CPC), nominated for the post by the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce. Liang's outstanding personal qualities are what make him stand out.

His construction machinery group Sany, based in Changsha, is a model for the Chinese private sector. Liang himself is discrete, always attentive to avoid controversy: a sunny embodiment of the new breed of Chinese entrepreneur.

That a businessman could assume a senior CPC position is not entirely unprecedented. But, except for Zhang Reiming, who was the President of Haier Group, the largest Chinese household electric appliances group, all the other executives in senior CPC positions came from state-owned enterprises.

If Liang, the richest Chinese man from the private sector, is to be elected as a member of the 18th CPC Central Committee, as expected, the symbolism will reach far beyond his own personal story.

Making a bigger cake

The private economy accounts for a proportionally larger and larger share of China's overall national economy, but it has continued to keep a relatively low profile. Private entrepreneurs have always been excluded from the power center of the ruling party. This change is driven by new guidelines that private entrepreneurs are to be identified as "builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics," and are to be treated as political equals, and should be absorbed by the party.

Achieving common prosperity requires both an equitable distribution of wealth, and the creation of a "cake" big enough for everyone to share. The growing size of the cake comes from the private sector's development rather than through the capital of the powerful and privileged, which is instead increasingly seen as the source of all social inequality.

The private sector employs 80% of China's working population. Only when it is flourishing, can the "program of doubling" of people's wealth be realized. In addition, the private economy directly feeds the whole society's stability. As the economist Wu Jinglien pointed out recently, in order to create common prosperity, China must avoid a situation in which the country advances, and the people are left lagging behind.

This indeed is the message sent out by Liang's arrival on the political scene.

Read the original article in Chinese

photo - Sany

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