Why is the salary of the President of the People's Republic of China so low? According to Wikipedia, the salary of the President of the People's Republic of China just ¥152,121 RMB ($22,000 USD). How can one of the most powerful man have such a low salary?

According to the plan, all civil servants will get a raise. The basic monthly salary for national-level officials, who are the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, including President Xi Jinping, will increase from the current 7,020 yuan ($1,130) to 11,385 yuan, a raise of about 60 percent.


I am thinking the salary is so low that it would encourage officials to have a second job or take bribes in order to make ends meet. Is there a reason why the salary is being kept so low?

  • 6
    It would be interesting to also know the allowances for various things to see to the whole picture.
    – Alexei
    Aug 31, 2021 at 4:55
  • 4
    I have seen estimates that put the median income in China at around USD 3,000 per year (the GDP per capita is 10,000 or so). In that case, the President makes about seven times the median national salary, which is not too far from what is the case in the United States.
    – Obie 2.0
    Aug 31, 2021 at 7:59

2 Answers 2


The President of the PRC is a symbolic position of little real power. Many previous leaders haven't bothered with putting themselves into the role: Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping never took the title "President".

The Power, prestige (and probably salary) come with being the General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. More recently (starting with Jiang Zemin) the General Secretary has also been invested with the position of President. But this remains a de facto ceremonial post. Mr Xi's income is not dependent only on being "President".

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    It is an interesting hypothesis, but as far as I can tell, the General Secretary never made more than Xi's current salary.
    – Obie 2.0
    Aug 31, 2021 at 9:05

You are assuming that costs and incentive structures are the same.

The US is an outlier in how much money is required for someone to achieve material security, because the state provides fewer services, necessities are provided only by for-profit companies and insurances that cover eventualities are expensive.

In regulated markets, necessities tend to be a lot cheaper and luxury goods a lot more expensive. For example, in the GDR, typical prices were 1M for bread, 50-100M for a month's rent, and 8000M for a TV, with typical income being around 400-500M. Converting these to USD is difficult as DDM were purely internal, if we follow the official 1:1 conversion from DEM, 1 DDM would be 0.30-0.70 USD (rates were fluctuating wildly back then).

So, "making ends meet" is not a problem these people have, and the only reason to pay them more would be if you wanted to reward them with more luxury goods.

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    This is an international website, so please define any abbreviations that may be unfamiliar to a wider audience. I assume by the context that 'M' and 'DDM' = East German mark? What is 'DEM'? Aug 31, 2021 at 13:02
  • 2
    DEM = West German Mark -- these are historical ISO4217 currency codes. Aug 31, 2021 at 13:29
  • Then the OP's question could be translated into "What are the incentives for the chinese elites, if not salary".
    – user20276
    Aug 31, 2021 at 13:45
  • @oliver, yes, this is a frame challenge. Aug 31, 2021 at 15:00
  • 1
    @SimonRichter: in my opinion a perfectly valid answer. Some people don't need a lot of payment if they can torture others in their jobs, for example. This is also reminiscent of the GDR because people working for the Stasi either got there because of coercion, or due to their own eagerness, but rarely for payment, I guess.
    – user20276
    Aug 31, 2021 at 15:14

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