BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s base salary is rising from about $13,600 to $22,300 a year under a recent general pay increase for public employees, state media reported Tuesday.
The reports gave Chinese citizens a rare glimpse into how much their leaders make, though it was far from the whole picture because it excludes extra allowances and other perquisites of power. And, officials later declined to confirm even the base salary figures and dampened online discussion. Comments sections following online news reports about the matter were closed.
The China Daily said the base salaries of Xi and six other members of the Communist Party’s powerful Standing Committee were rising from 7,020 yuan ($1,140) to 11,385 yuan ($1,850) a month — a 62 percent increase. It said the pay of lowest-ranking officials would double to $2,580 per year, that these were the first such raises since 2006, and that many lower-level civil servants have been quitting because of low pay.
Liu Bangxiu, a car assessor, reacted with sarcasm on his microblog, suggesting that government officials have plenty of other ways of enriching themselves.
“Congratulations! Haven’t got a pay rise for 10 years? How could you feed your families during that period?” Liu wrote on his verified Sina Weibo blog. “Everyone knows that public servants have low pay, so why are there still so many people trying to become a public servant? Isn’t that contradictory?!”
Higher salaries could also be a defense against corruption, a problem Xi has attacked since taking charge of the ruling Communist Party more than two years ago. Chinese leaders have expressed admiration for Singapore and other countries where the salaries of public servants are similar to those in the private sector as a guard against graft.
The state media reports cited a Jan. 12 notice from the Human Resources Ministry that was circulated online. However, Vice Minister Hu Xiaoyi denied that the ministry had published the notice and declined to confirm its figures.
U.S. President Barack Obama earns a base salary of $400,000 a year.