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China's richest man may join central committee: reports
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 26, 2011

China's richest man could become the first private business owner to join the Communist Party's powerful central committee, state media reported Monday.

Construction tycoon Liang Wengen topped Forbes magazine's annual list of China's richest people list with wealth of $9.3 billion this year, moving up from third place in 2010.

If Liang is chosen by the party at its congress next October, he will become the first private entrepreneur to join the committee, made up of around 300 of the most senior party members from across the country.

The China Times newspaper said the powerful Central Organisation Department, which controls staffing positions in the party, had completed its examination of Liang.

If elected, Liang is likely to be an alternate -- or reserve -- member.

Alternate members cannot cast votes on policy, but can be promoted to full voting members when an existing one retires or dies.

In 2001, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin declared private business owners would be welcome to join the party for the first time since its founding in 1921.

China's economy has grown rapidly and is now the world's second largest, but most of the country's biggest companies are still state-controlled or headed by Communist party appointees and are often favoured over their private rivals.

"If Liang is admitted to the central committee this will be a statement of reassurance to the private sector," said Willy Lam, a China analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Liang, chairman and co-founder of machinery company Sany, has seen his personal wealth soar as China's building spree created demand for the company's cranes and excavators.

However, Lam warned Liang's wealth could count against him. "Traditionally these party delegates do not like rich entrepreneurs," he said.

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