Thursday, December 14

China's Rich List: How The Top Five Chinese Billionaires Make Money

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In The Shadows: The Case Of Chinese Billionaires

When the wealth of China is mentioned, the focus is usually on the county’s Gross National Product. The corporation , individuals and entrepreneurs behind China’s new found wealth remain largely in the shadows.In the past thirty years China has been rising as an economic power house albeit amidst claims of unfair trade practices such as the much talked about devaluation of the Yuan by the communist party.

Donald Trump: Real Estate, Media Mogul. Image via Wikipedia

Warren Buffet, Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani and the Steel mogulMitttal are known world over. Aside from the astronomical figures mentioned when discussing their  fortunes, the pick of the world’s wealthy for varied reasons constantly make headlines around the world.

Some may make news courtesy of their new acquisitions as is the norm for Warren Buffet, some make it courtesy of their heavy involvement in philanthropy via their staggering donations to their foundations and charities like is the case for Bill gates, while for others it has something to do with their luxurious lifestyles as is the case of the billion dollar home that Mukesh Ambani is constructing.

China: Largest Number Of Billionaires In The World

China has the largest number of millionaires in the world both in yuan and US dollar terms. The Hurun report , a luxury affiliated publication that provides the only reliable documentation of Chinese billionaires, estimates that there could be close to 5000 Chinese Billionaires!

A Chinese billionaire is an individual whose worth has hit the 1 billion Yuan mark ($150 m). Of the 5000 wealthy men, only 1363 billionaires are open about their wealth, the rest are still hiding under their piles of money. In Us dollar terms, China has an estimated 140 Billionaires with this number termed as hugely conservative. TheHurun report estimates the true figure to range at 400-500 billionaires.

The reasons for this shadowy nature which sharply contrasts with that of their western counterparts are varied. Involvement of dynasties and high ranking government officials of present and pat governments has been touted as possible explanation. The existence of high levels capitalistic vices like tax evasion is another possible answer, but the more defining factor appears to be the nature of Chinese culture which frowns upon flaunting of wealth. This is especially a sensitive matter in light of the equally high levels of poverty among large swathes of the Chinese population. 

Here are the top five Chinese billionaires as per the August 2010 Hurun List

Zong Qinghou & family :

Tops the Chinese rich list with a personal fortune of 12 billion US Dollars

Chairman of Hangzou based Wahaha Group- China’s largest beverage company.  Zong a man of little formal education, started out by selling yogurt and milk products. Today his company has 70 subsidiaries, 30,000 employees and is expected to turn $1.5 billion in profits.It produces bottled water, soft drinks, fruit juice and even porridge.

The holding company houses a host of joint ventures, but the money spinner appears to be the drinks industry. Wa ha ha , the name of the company denotes a laughing child in Chinese. The 65 yr old may be  laughing all the work to the bank courtesy of a well developed distribution system that has ensured penetration of his products deep into rural China- a place where he spent the 15 yrs of his youthful life working on a farm before he immigrated to the city.

Li Li & family

Second on the Chinese rich list with a personal fortune of 6 billion US Dollars

Interest in : Pharmaceutical company Hepalink which manufactures Heparin, a anti-clotting agent,  form pig intestines. In typical Chinese fashion, not much is known yet about the Li Li family save for the fact that their company Hepalink was recently listed in Hong Kong’s stock exchange accounting for the upturn in family fortunes.

Zhang Yi & family

Third on the Chinese list with a personal fortune of 5.6 billion US Dollars

Image courtesy of photobucket: AlwaysRick

She may be not as famous as Oprah Winfrey, neither is her choice of industry famous for making people stinking wealthy; but at 5.6 billion US dollars, Zhang Yi ridding on the back of a thriving domestic Chinese economy recycled waste paper minting it into billions.

The richest self made woman in the world started out by scrounging waste paper form garbage collectors with her husband in the US. She then shipped the waste paper to China where it was recycled by compacting it  into packing boxes.

These boxes would find their way back to Western countries, as packaging for a host of Chinese goods ranging from toys to clothes that are exported to to Europe and America by the volumes.  As you probably already know, China is considered to be ‘the world factory’ of the 21st century. China’s export trade surpassed Germany at the turn of the first decade of the new millennium.

Liang Wen’ gen

Fourth On the Chinese rich list with a personal fortune of 5.3 billion US Dollars

image courtesy of

In a construction boom, the money is with the real estate developer right? Wrong , I am afraid, as Liang will tell you. Making the money lies in selling the shovels so to say. With rapid urbanization in China, Liang saw the opportunity to trade in construction machinery. Today, he controls the world’s largest manufacturer of construction machinery. Liang could be China’s Rockefeller were it gold being traded and  not houses or real estate.

Robin Li Yanhong

Fifth on the Chinese rich list with a personal fortune of 5.3 billion US Dollars

This is the man behind search engine Baidu. Started his career studying library information systems at Peking University. Mastered in computer science at The State University Of New York. Worked for Wall Street Journal and later at Silicon valley before returning to China in 2000 to found the search engine. Credited with developing the link analysis concept in search engine search whereby a website is ranked according to the number of other websites linking into it.

Yan Bin

Ties in at fifth with Robin Li Yanhong.

Image courtesy of photobucket kate_ace76

800 million US Dollars is the expected sales of Red Bull drink in China in 2010. Of Thai descent like his energy drink Krating Daeng which translates to Red Bull in English, Yan Bin controls 51 percent of the company that brought the world its most popular energy drink.


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