As the fortunes of China's richest have generally shrunk this year, new names from the emergent alternative energy sector are surging toward the top of the list, according to the 2008 Hurun China Rich Report released yesterday.
Jiangxi province solar energy tycoon Peng Xiaofeng was No. 4 with a personal wealth of 27 billion yuan. He was 6th in last year's tally.
Another solar energy developer from Jiangsu province, Shi Zhengrong, jumped to 8th from 25th last year with a personal wealth of 21.5 billion yuan.
In total, 22 solar energy tycoons made this year's list, compared to nine last year.
Their performance shows China's power and potential in alternative energy exploitation, the report says.
On Monday, the report's publishers revealed the rich list's top three - 39-year-old appliance and property developer Huang Guangyu, steel tycoon Du Shuanghua and last year's No 1 Yang Huiyan, respectively.
As a gloomy pall has long hung over stock and property markets, more than 50 percent of China's richest saw their wealth diminish - by 22 percent from last year on average - while 20 percent made relatively small gains.
However, China still has 101 billionaires, and the report listed more than 1,000 names of those with personal wealth exceeding 700 million yuan.
There were 88 woman entrepreneurs listed, 0.7 percent more than last year.
The youngest billionaire was 20-year-old Wu Qun, who runs a medical firm with his father in Jiangsu province and is now worth 1.1 billion yuan.
The oldest was 86-year-old property and hotel tycoon Yu Pengnian, who is currently worth 2 billion yuan.
Yu is also the most generous billionaire and has donated more than 300 million yuan to healthcare and education to date.
NBA star Yao Ming ranked 987th with a personal wealth of 700 million yuan. He earned US$15 million from the 08-09 sports season before advertising incomes.
Most billionaires hail from Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, while most headquartered their companies in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
(China Daily October 8, 2008)