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China rich list a mirror of changing economic landscape

2014-10-31 10:39 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

The number of China's billionaires shot up by 44 percent to 242 this year. Although the country remains well behind the United States in terms of the number of billionaires, the rapid increase is an unambiguous sign of the unmatched vitality of the world's second-largest economy.

More importantly, while the number of Chinese billionaires surges, there have been some new changes to the list, which reflects the initial changes to the country's economic landscape.

The technology sector, above all, has produced the richest people in the country, with the top three on the list all coming from the Internet service industry, squeezing out real estate tycoons that had topped the list in recent years.

Jack Ma, whose personal wealth saw an explosive growth of 1.7 times in a year to reach $19.5 billion after his company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in September, became the richest Chinese, followed by Robin Li, founder of Baidu, China's largest online search company and Pony Ma, founder of Tencent, parent of China's most popular messaging app, WeChat.

Ma also topped a similar list compiled by China-based luxury magazine publisher Hurun last month.

Among the top 10 richest entrepreneurs on the Forbes list are two other Internet company founders — Lei Jun of rising mobile phone company Xiaomi and Richard Liu of e-commerce site jd.com.

Wang Jianlin, the No 1 last year, was relegated to the fourth place this year as his wealth decreased to $13.2 billion from $14.1 billion after China's real estate sector soured.

While they have taken the top spots on the list, the Internet new rich have also seen their wealth expand at a fast pace. The combined wealth of the five Internet leaders increased by $31.2 billion in a year, while that of the remaining five wealthiest businessmen on the top 10 list grew by only $7.6 billion.

Interestingly, although the Internet tycoons have eclipsed the glamour of real estate moguls, the real estate sector remains an important source of billionaires. There are more than 100 business leaders from that sector who made the Forbes top 400 rich list.

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