China basketball star Yao Ming enters politics

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 16 2012 05:42 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2012 01:42 AM

SHANGHAI - Not content with owning a basketball team, studying business and making wine, China's former NBA superstar Yao Ming has now become the youngest -- and tallest -- legislative advisor in Shanghai.

The 31-year-old was formally accepted as a member of an advisory body to Shanghai's legislature at the weekend -- a position that entitles him to make proposals for possible new laws -- the official China Daily reported.

A photograph printed by the newspaper shows the 2.29-meter (7-foot, 6-inch) Yao towering above other newly selected members of the advisory body -- his latest venture since he formally retired from the Houston Rockets in July.

"Raising proposals is very serious business and I do not want to be hasty," Yao was quoted as saying.

Since July, Yao's busy schedule has involved him going back to school for a university degree in business management and helping manage the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese basketball team.

In November, he also set up a company to sell his own brand of wine using grapes from California's famed Napa Valley, and his new role in politics has sparked concern Yao may be taking on too much.

But Zhang Chi, a spokesman for the Shanghai Sharks, dismissed these worries.

"We can trust him that he can balance all aspects of his work and study and do well in this job," he was quoted as saying.

"What Yao wants is to use his influence to do good deeds for society but not to seek a political position."

Rumours have also been circulating online that Yao failed his final exam in advanced maths at Shanghai's Jiaotong University, which he joined in the autumn, with a score of 38 out of 100 -- claims denied by his management team.

"Yao believes his exam marks are a private matter and does not want to disclose them. But it was definitely not 38," Yao's personal spokesman, Zhang Mingji, was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Daily.

Yao is China's first global sports superstar with a personal brand valued at more than $1 billion.