January 21, 2015 – Chinese President Xi Jinping and the other six members of the Communist Party’s elite Politburo Standing Committee have been given 62 per cent pay increments, state-run media said yesterday, as civil servants get their first increases since 2006.
Xi’s basic monthly pay will go up to 11,385 yuan (US$1,832) from 7,020 yuan, the China Daily said, citing announcements by the ministry of human resources and social security. Despite leading the world’s second-largest economy, Xi’s pay falls far short of US President Barack Obama, who earns US$400,000 a year.
At the bottom of China’s scale, the lowest-ranked civil servants have seen their pay more than double to 1,320 yuan. Increasing numbers of officials are quitting over low compensation, the paper said, but it pointed out that basic salaries make up just one component of civil servants’ monthly compensation. Additional allowances are also provided based on their positions and duties, it said, though it did not provide breakdowns or amounts.
Civil service work in China has long offered both prestige and official perks, as well as opportunities to accrue extra wealth through the receipt of bribes and other forms of corruption.
Since becoming party chief in November 2012 and state president in March 2013, Xi has spearheaded a crackdown on corruption within the party and government that has seen low-ranking “flies” and once high-flying “tigers” brought down.
Relatives of top leaders including Xi and former premier Wen Jiabao have used offshore tax havens to hide their wealth, according to a mammoth investigation released in January last year by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In 2012 The New York Times and Bloomberg News published investigations into vast wealth said to have been amassed by family members of Wen and Xi. Neither official was accused of wrongdoing.
Other countries’ leaders enjoy significantly higher basic pay. India’s government said in 2013 that its then-premier Manmohan Singh was earning around 160,000 rupees (US$2,600) a month in salary and allowances – as well as personal staff, rent-free housing, a plane and an official vehicle.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore is among the world’s best-paid heads of government with an annual salary of S$2.2 million (US$1.64 million). That is despite taking a 36 per cent pay cut in 2012. The government defends them as necessary to attract talent from the private sector and deter corruption.
Last year, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Xi and China’s top leaders decided to cut salaries and restrict expense accounts and other perks of executives at state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Xinhua provided no amounts at the time, but the China Times newspaper said in December that executives at most central government-controlled SOEs would have their salaries cut by around 30 per cent, with their pay not to exceed eight times that of average workers.
The civil service pay increases are retroactive to Oct 1, the China Daily said, adding that future salary adjustments will be more frequent, with the ministry saying they will take place every year or two.
“The adjustment is not only about the salary increase, but aims to establish a scientific wage system, which can measure employees’ duties and workload no matter whether they work for the government or a corporation,” the paper cited Yang Yansui, director-general of Tsinghua University’s Employment and Social Security Research Centre, as saying.