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'China's Richest Person' Title Could Go to a Woman
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Forbes' Shanghai Bureau Chief Russell Flannery said on Tuesday that Forbes Asia is likely to list a new No.1 richest Chinese in the mainland this year.

Huang Guangyu, president of Gome Appliances with a net worth of US$2.1 billion, according to Forbes Asia, and Shi Zhengrong, CEO of Suntech Power Co with a net worth of US$2.2 billion, are the contenders likely to nudge Larry Rong Zhijian from the top spot.

Rong, head of CITIC Pacific Group, led the Forbes' 400 Richest Chinese List two years in a row. His net worth in 2005 was estimated at US$1.6 billion. Huang Guangyu ranked No.4 in 2005 with US$1.3 billion, and Shi Zhengrong was No.98 with US$200 million.

Forbes Asia will officially publish this year's list of 400 Richest Chinese on November 2.

Flannery said that the rich have become richer in the past year thanks to China's rapid economic growth rate, rising stock prices and sustained investment and consumption.

By the same token, the divide between the rich and the poor continues to widen dramatically.

The country's Gini coefficient, an international measurement of income disparity, is estimated to have exceeded the danger level of 0.4. The country's richest 10 percentile possess more than 40 percent of total household wealth, while the poorest 10 percent have only two percent.

What is interesting, however, is that according to an annual survey compiled and released today by Rupert Hoogewerf, a former Forbes rich-list compiler, Cheung Yan, the 49 year-old founder and chairwoman of top Chinese paper packager Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd. is the richest person in China with US$3.4 billion.

Hoogewerf worked with Forbes from 1999 to 2002. He established Hurun Report in 2003.

Neither Forbes nor Hurun would comment on the other's list or their standards of measure.

(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2006)

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