China now has 168 billionaires, Forbes reports with its annual China Rich List. Wang Jianlin, the real estate mogul who owns the American cinema chain AMC and purchased British luxury yacht builder Sunseeker International along with properties in London and New York earlier this year, tops the list.
The previous record was 146 billionaires in 2011, while in 2012, China's total dipped to 113. Wang, the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, jumped from No. 3 last year to the top of the list with a fortune worth $14.1 billion. That is $8 billion more than the previous year as China’s real estate market recovers.
Dalian Wanda operates a chain of cinemas in China, but Wang’s ambition in the entertainment industry eclipses just the Chinese market – the 59-year-old businessman flew in Leonardo Dicaprio, Nicole Kidman and other international movie stars to China for the launch of an $8 billion mini-Hollywood in the eastern city of Qingdao.
Second to Wang on the list is Zong Qinghou, the chairman of Wahaha, a beverage company. Zong was previously the richest man in China but now occupies the second place with a net worth of $11.2 billion. Wang just manages to beat Robin Li, the 44-year-old founder and CEO of Chinese search engine giant Baidu, who is ranked No. 3 with $11.1 billion.
Along with Li, Ma Huateng, the CEO of Tencent, and Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, No. 5 and No. 7 respectively, all made their fortunes in the China’s Internet business. Together, the three kings of the Internet all enjoyed huge gains in their fortunes in the past year as their companies moved aggressively to head off rivals, according to Forbes.
Aside from Wang, those who made their money from real estate occupy most slots on the top 100 list, with property prices on the rise in most major cities in China. The wealth of the top 100 soared by 4 percent this year to a grand total of $316 billion, while the wealth of the top 400 richest surged 35 percent to $570 billion.
Moguls from the auto industry also occupy eight spots on the list, led by Wei Jianjun, chairman of Great Wall Motor, at No. 6 with a fortune of $9 billion. The highest-ranking newcomer is Li Hejun with a fortune of $10.9 billion – fittingly, since getting pollution under control is one of Beijing’s top priorities now, and Li’s Hanergy Holding of Beijing specializes in renewable energy.
Yang Huiyan, the wealthiest woman and the majority shareholder of her family’s Hong Kong-listed Country Garden, occupied No. 7 with $7.2 billion this year, while He Xiangjian, the founder of Midea, one of China’s largest appliance makers, and Liu Yongxing, the chairman of Hope Oriental Corporation, rounded out the list at No. 9 and No. 10 with $6.8 billion and $6.1 billion respectively, Forbes reported.