China's wealthy in Forbes list nearly doubles

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China has seen its richest people coming from diverse industries, indicating signs of a dynamic economy, according to Forbes magazine's Billionaires List of 2011.

"Many entrepreneurs from different industries are visible, which is the most interesting thing this year. It showed China's economy has a very healthy source of vitality," said Russell Flannery, who heads the compilation of the list in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

The number of Chinese billionaires nearly doubled to 115 in the latest global list. The newcomers represent more diverse industries, including pharmaceuticals, education, and clothing, rather than traditional industries such as real estate.

Many of the new billionaires are from the private sector, which accounts for major growth in many important areas in China, said Flannery.

"Since the global financial crisis, the central government has been giving a lot of support to big State-owned companies to quickly implement policies. But in the long term, the smart home-grown Chinese entrepreneurs are doing a lot to create jobs and wealth and help China to expand overseas," he said.

Among the country's new billionaires, at least 20 made their way to the list through a surge in wealth from initial public offerings (IPO) on the stock markets, according to Flannery.

China had the most IPOs last year, with 476 of its companies raising funds which totaled $105 billion from both domestic and overseas markets, according to a report by the Zero2IPO Research Center.

The search engine Baidu Inc's share price almost doubled after Google Inc said it had redirected all its mainland traffic to Hong Kong, a move interpreted by some as "retreating from the Chinese market".

That helped Robin Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu, to top the billionaire list in China, and ranked 95th globally, with personal wealth of $9.4 billion.

Flannery said Li's top ranking in China is "very symbolic" as it said "access to the Internet has strengthened China's economic competitiveness and helped to bring great success to individual businesses through e-commerce".

Last year's richest man, Zong Qinghou, chairman of the multi-billion-dollar soft drinks company Wahaha Group fell to the third in China and 169th in the world, with $5.9 billion.

The company will expand its business into healthcare drinks and has already invested 50 million yuan ($7.6 million) in equipment, Zong said in an interview with China Daily.

In the 2011 list, the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - contributed 108 of the 214 new billionaires. These countries are home to one in four members, up from one in ten five years ago.

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