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China added 307 billionaires last year as new energy sector propels wealth

New energy propelled eight of the 10 fastest rising wealthy persons, while embattled property moguls and those facing regulatory scrutiny slipped down the ladder
Zhong Shanshan topped this year’s Hurun China Rich List 2021 with his personal wealth pegged at of $60.6 billion because of a surge in the value of his listed companies. (TWITTER.)
Updated on Oct 27, 2021 03:44 PM IST
BySutirtho Patranobis

China added 307 billionaires in the past one year with the list of the country’s richest persons now headed by its “bottled water king”, followed by the founder of TikTok and then by the country’s “battery king”, the annual Hurun list of the wealthy revealed on Wednesday.

New energy propelled eight of the 10 fastest rising wealthy persons, while embattled property moguls and those facing regulatory scrutiny including the high-profile Jack Ma, who had once topped the Hurun list for three consecutive years, slipped down the ladder, the new rankings revealed.

Zhong Shanshan topped this year’s Hurun China Rich List 2021 with his personal wealth pegged at of $60.6 billion because of a surge in the value of his listed companies, Nongfu Spring and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which manufactures vaccines besides Covid-19 diagnostic kits.

Zhang Yiming, 38, founder of TikTok, banned in India in 2020 because of national security issues, tripled his wealth last year, and is now second on the list with $52.8 billion in his kitty.

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Battery king Zeng Yuqun, 53, of CATL, the world’s number of battery-maker for EVs, tripled his wealth to take him to third spot with $47.4bn.

Tencent Holdings’ Pony Ma, and Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group rounded out the top five.

The rich list is a ranking of the richest individuals in China, with a wealth cut-off of 2 billion yuan, equivalent to $310 million.

New energy has had an amazing year, while real estate, home tutoring services, pork production and video gaming have had a bad year, Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report’s chairperson and chief researcher, said.

“New energy is the big story of the year, with 8 of the 10 fastest risers related to new energy, led by Zeng (of CATL), and including EV makers Wei Jianjun & Han Xuejuan of Great Wall Motor and Wang Chuanfu of BYD, solar makers Liu Hanyuan of Tongwei and related miners, including Luo Liguo of Hesheng Silicon, up 6.5 times to US$21.7bn.

As per the list, the average ‘Hurun Rich Lister’ was born in 1965, started his business in 1994 at the age of 29, broke into the list in 2012 at the age of 47, and is now 56 years old with US$1.9bn.

“Twenty years ago, we could only find 19 individuals with $300mn, but over the last 20 years, this has grown over 100 times to almost 3,000, showing the growth of the Chinese economy. Based on this trajectory, expect the Hurun China Rich List to grow to as many as 5,000 within ten years,” according to Hoogewerf.

Hoogewerf said that it’s a similar story in China in the context of the rising number of billionaires.

“Back in 1999, there were none, with the first wave of 100 coming through in 2007, before breaking through the 500-mark in 2015 and since Covid, almost doubling to 1185 known billionaires today, 50 percent more than the US, which has just under 700 known billionaires. At this rate, expect China to have 2,000 known billionaires by 2030,” he said.

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