There were 64 Chinese who made enough money to be considered dollar billionaires in the past year, bringing China’s total number of super-rich to 315 – a huge leap from exactly zero a decade ago, according to the Hurun Wealth Report 2013. The top five richest have seen their fortunes double, and now, together, they have as much money as Bill Gates.
The Hurun Report, a leading authority on China’s wealthy, just released its 2013 China Rich List, and No. 1 on the list is 59-year-old Wang Jianlin. Wang's Dalian Wanda Group purchased American cinema chain AMC last year, and earlier this year announced the building of the tallest residential tower in London as well as plans for hotels in New York City. Wang saw his wealth double to $22 billion in the past year, which is about a third of the fortune amassed by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill Gates (around $67.5 billion).
Zong Qinghou, owner of the popular canned-drinks company Wahaha and last year’s top billionaire in China, expanded his fortune by about 50 percent in the past year but still came in behind Wang with $18.7 billion. The rest of the top five are new to the elite group: Pony Ma, CEO of Tencent, the tech company that operates China’s popular instant messaging software QQ; Wei Jianjun, the chairman of Great Wall Motor; and real estate developer Yang Huiyan, the 32-year-old who became the majority shareholder of Country Garden Holdings, which was started by her father in 1997.
Despite fears of a real estate bubble in China, one in four on the list of the top 1,000 earners made their fortunes in real estate, which overtook manufacturing to become the top source of wealth this year. IT and entertainment also had a great year, with the number of individuals making their money from these industries growing 20 percent.
Not so much for natural resources (especially coal mining), manufacturing, steel, retail and apparel, as the number of wealthiest in those sectors dropped 5 percent to 10 percent this year. Pharmaceuticals, investments and auto had a good year.
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The youngest self-made billionaire is 39-year-old Richard Liu, founder of the online retailer 360buy Jingdong Mall. Liu started out with a company that sold magneto-optical products, but in 2003, owing to China’s SARS epidemic, Liu was forced to close all his shops and change his business model to e-business.
Overall, 599 of the top 1,000 saw their wealth grow in the past year, while 252 saw theirs shrink, according to the Hurun Wealth Report 2013.