Tech entrepreneurs replace real estate tycoons as political advisers in China’s push for IT edge
Technology entrepreneurs are having a stronger presence in China’s political scene like never before, underscoring the ambitious programme by the government of the world’s second-largest economy to gain an edge in every technological field from artificial intelligence to big data and robotics.
More than 20 property tycoons have dropped out as delegates to China’s legislative and consultative conference this year.
Among them are Hu Baosen, chairman of construction firm Jianye Group, Longfor Properties’ chairman Wu Yajun, Yuexiu Group’s chairman Zhang Zhaoxing, New World Development’s chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun, Shui On Group’s chairman Henry Lo Hong-sui, and Fosun Group’s chairman Guo Guangchang, whose conglomerate includes a property business.
Slashing the number of developers offers a clear signal of the government’s opposition to real estate speculation, and a nod to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s instruction last October for property to be “for living, not for speculation,” said Beijing-based independent economist Hu Xingdou.
“If more property tycoons arise, that means China’s economy is out of shape,” Hu said. “Fewer people will be willing to contribute to the real economy and national industries.The real estate sector is also a hotbed for corruption because it’s connected to hundreds of government approvals.”
Still, real estate tycoon Hui Ka Yan, or Xu Jiayin as the chairman of Guangzhou-based developer Evergrande Group is known in mainland China, managed to remain among delegates thronging the Chinese capital this weekend.
His Evergrande group has spent about 11 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) in the past two years on poverty reduction in Bijie, a city in one of the country’s poorest provinces of Guizhou, with a pledge to help lift 1 million residents of the backwater above the poverty line.
For private techno-preneurs, joining the elite political club is a sure way of getting on the fast track to self promotion, said Yu Jie, head of China foresight at LSE Ideas.