Wahaha's Zong Qinghou tops Hurun China Rich List

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Domestic consumption has been the major driver of the rising number of China's dollar billionaires, which rose by 69 to 189 this year, said the compiler of the Hurun Rich List 2010 Tuesday.

The list, the 12th annual ranking of the richest people in China, names 1,363 individuals with a personal wealth of 1 billion yuan (150 million U.S. dollars), up from 1,000 last year and just 24 a decade ago.

"We can see from the first 10 richest Chinese that their major fortunes were not made from exports, but from the growth of China's domestic market," said Rupert Hoogewerf at a press conference to launch the publication of the complete list.

Topping the list was Zong Qinghou, the founder of food and beverage giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group. With a personal fortune of 12 billion U.S. dollars, Zong is the richest man on the Chinese mainland.

Li Li, a pharmaceutical tycoon who founded Hepalink, came second, and "Paper Queen" Zhang Yin, who owns the Nine Dragon Paper, was third.

"Zong Qinghou was crowned because of the growth of China's domestic market, and his success reflects a trend," said Hoogewerf, founder of the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which publishes the list.

"Zhang Yin, the 53-year-old richest woman in China, also sees her wealth grow by almost a billion U.S. dollars to 5.6 billion U.S. dollars on the back of growth in the domestic retail market," Hoogewerf said.

The fortunes of China's riches continued to grow rapidly despite the index of Shanghai Stock Exchange falling 10 percent last year.

The average wealth of the first 1,000 people on the list was up 26 percent from last year, and the average wealth of the first 10 was up 32 percent, according to the report.

The financial services and mining sectors attracted the most investors, while health care, IT, retail and apparel all enjoyed record years.

However, with stocks in residential property down by a quarter on average over the last year, the number of "pure" property tycoons in the top 10 was down from six to two, Hoogewerf said in a statement.

"Not only is 2010 the first time in 10 years a property tycoon has not made the Top Five, but it is also the first year that a construction equipment manufacturer has made more than any property tycoon. It is the modern equivalent of the California gold rush when selling shovels to the gold miners was the guarantee of success," he said.

China's urbanization meant property was still the biggest wealth creator, he said.

The youngest tycoons were in the entertainment sector, said Hoogewerf.

The list also revealed the growing political influence of China's wealthy:

-- Twelve percent of the rich list names -- 173 individuals -- have been appointed to significant government advisory posts.

-- Eighty names are delegates to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), compared with 71 last year.

-- The National People's Congress had 83 delegates on the list, compared with 76 last year.

"China's richest are looking to win official political status. They are growing in confidence, based on employing ever more staff and paying ever higher taxes," said Hoogewerf.

The list does not include people based in Hong Kong and Macao.


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