Neil Shen, the head of Sequoia Capital’s hugely successful Chinese arm, is no longer a member of Beijing’s top political advisory body, raising questions about his relationship with the Chinese government. His absence comes at a time when Sequoia Capital China is navigating a sensitive environment amid growing geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Shen was absent from an updated list of more than 2,000 delegates for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference published earlier this week. Several other high profile Chinese tech entrepreneurs previously listed as members were also absent, including Robin Li, the CEO of search giant Baidu, and Ding Lei, the CEO of online gaming company NetEase. While the group is largely symbolic, membership in CPPCC, which meets once a year alongside the country’s legislature, is closely watched as a potential signal of endorsement and support by the party.
“This is how power, position and authority is distributed in China,” said Fraser Howie, an independent analyst and former investment banker who has authored three books on the Chinese financial system. “You are respected if you’re on the People’s Political Consultative Conference. It opens doors for you, it shows that you are connected.”