$12b man now richest in China

09:03, October 13, 2010      

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Zong Qinghou Li LiZhang Yin

China has a new richest man, and his claim to the crown is an indication that domestic consumption is the key driver in the rising number of China's wealthy, according to the complier of the Hurun Rich List 2010 released Tuesday.

Zong Qinghou, the 65-year-old founder of China's largest maker of soft drinks, the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, is now China's richest man, with a personal fortune estimated at $12 billion, according to the list.

"Except for one among the top 10 richest Chinese on the list - who made (his) money through exporting a blood thinner to the US - the remaining richest made their fortunes from China's growing domestic market," Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, told the Global Times.

Among the list's 1,363 individuals worth at least 1 billion yuan ($150 million), fewer than 5 percent have made their fortunes from export-oriented business, Hoogewerf said.

"Zong was crowned thanks to China's growing domestic demand, and his success reflects a trend," Hoogewerf added.

Li Li, a pharmaceutical tycoon who founded Hepalink, was ranked second with $6 billion, followed by Zhang Yin, the founder of paper-recycling company Nine Dragons Paper, with $5.6 billion.

Sany Heavy Industry Co's Liang Wen'gen and Baidu Inc's Robin Li ranked fourth and fifth with $5.4 billion and $5.3 billion, respectively.

"We can see from this year's Rich List that consumer products and new economic forms, such as Internet business, have became a growth engine in the private sector, and people are getting more concerned with the updating of their living standards, in addition to basic needs," Li Xunlei, chief economist of Guotai Junan Securities, told the Global Times.

Despite domestic stock markets being down 10 percent over the past year, the richest Chinese have seen their fortunes continue to grow fast. The average wealth of the Hurun 1,000 grew 64 percent over the past two years and 26 percent in the past year, according to an analysis report released on the official website of the Hurun Report.
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