Yao Ming: Former NBA star, new political adviser

Updated: 2012-01-16 07:16

By Xie Yu (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - Retired NBA star Yao Ming, who once dominated the basketball court, is out to try his skills in a new venue: the halls of power.

On Sunday, Yao took his seat as a new member of the standing committee of Shanghai's political advisory body during its annual session.

Yao Ming: Former NBA star, new political adviser 

Yao Ming, together with another six newly elected members of the standing committee of Shanghai's political advisory body, poses for a photograph after the organ's annual session concluded on Sunday. Xu Cheng / for China Daily 

"There are about 142 members in the group, and Yao is the youngest," said Kong Rong, who works in the service office of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Shanghai Committee.

Yao is not the first Chinese sports star to become a Shanghai political adviser. Former Chinese female football star striker Sun Wen took up this job five years ago.

"Yao said the new title shows trust coming from the people in the city. He had said before that once he decides to do something, he will try his best to accomplish it. So we can trust him that he can balance all aspects of his work and study, and do well in this job," said Yao's spokesman Zhang Chi.

But Zhang denied that Yao has any ambitions to have a "political career".

"The responsibilities for a CPPCC member include offering political consultation, and supervision. What Yao wants is to use his influence to do good deeds for society but not to seek a political position," Zhang said.

Under the new title, Yao is supposed to attend regular meetings, make suggestions or raise written proposals for the advisory body and government departments.

Yao has remained very low-key during the organization's ongoing annual plenary session. The information office of the CPPCC Shanghai Committee said they have not received any proposals from Yao yet.

Yao explained earlier that he prefers to "listen and learn because he is new to the organization".

"Raising proposals is very serious business, and I do not want to be hasty," Yao said, adding that he is paying more attention to sports education, a field he is familiar with.

Zhang also said Yao is very interested in issues regarding sports and charity. "He will make proposals in future, of course," said Zhang.

Yao announced his retirement in Shanghai in July 2011. A Shanghai native, he played for eight seasons in the NBA after being the top overall pick in the 2002 draft and has been named to the NBA All-Star team eight times. Later in his career, Yao was afflicted with a series of injuries.

Yao now runs a restaurant, basketball club and winery while studying at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.