It was only a few years ago that a few billionaires showed up on Forbes’ China Rich List. This year, 128 billionaires were on the list, up 62% from the 79 last year. Only the U.S. has more with 400 billionaires based on the latest U.S. list.
Forbes’ China Rich List for 2010 is a telling barometer of China’s red-hot economic growth.
The total wealth of the 400 richest people on the new China list rose to $423 billion from $314 billion a year ago. While the fortune of China’s wealthiest still fall short of those of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, China’s richest are getting wealthier. To make the 2010 list, the minimum wealth is $425 million up from $300 million last year. Despite the higher amount, this year’s list had more than 100 people who were not on last year’s list.
Tracking China’s tycoons reveals a critical theme this year: China’s rebalancing act, away from exports to more consumer products and services. This year’s China rich list documents the phenomenal growth of consumer and technology and the cooling of real estates and autos.
The two riches men in China are beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou ($8 billion) and Internet search engine Baidu co-founder, Robin Li ($7.2 billion), who saw his fortune more than doubled when Google shut down its search engine in a censorship tiff with the Chinese government.
Last year’s number one, Wang Chuanfu, founder of automaker BYD, dropped to 10th as his company, which is 10 percent-owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, struggled with production delays and distribution setbacks.
More people this year came from the retail and pharmaceutical sectors mirroring the rise of domestic consumption and investment in social welfare. This year’s top ten contained only one property developer, down from three last year, as the government tried to rein in inflated property prices.
Given rising wages and the government’s $123 billion spending on health insurance for its citizens, not only will we see strong growth in health care, but with insurance, people now have more disposal income to spend on things like entertainment and travel.
Forbes said it expected to see more tycoons from food and beverage, chain restaurants and luxury hotels on the list in the future.
photo credit: snn, forbes