Eight of the ten fastest rising wealthy people were propelled by new energy, while embattled property moguls and those facing regulatory scrutiny slipped down the ladder.

China has added 307 billionaires in the last year, with the list of the country's wealthiest people now led by its "bottled water king," followed by the founder of TikTok, and then by the country's "battery king," according to the annual Hurun list of the wealthy released on Wednesday.

Eight of the ten fastest rising wealthy people were propelled by new energy, while embattled property moguls and those facing regulatory scrutiny, including the high-profile Jack Ma, who had previously topped the Hurun list for three consecutive years, slipped down the ladder, according to the new rankings.

Zhong Shanshan topped this year's Hurun China Rich List 2021 with a personal wealth of $60.6 billion due to a rise in the value of his listed companies, Nongfu Spring and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, both of which manufacture vaccines in addition to Covid-19 diagnostic kits.

Zhang Yiming, 38, the founder of TikTok, which will be banned in India in 2020 due to national security concerns, tripled his wealth last year and is now second on the list with $52.8 billion.

Zeng Yuqun, 53, of CATL, the world's largest EV battery manufacturer, tripled his fortune to rank third with $47.4 billion.

Pony Ma of Tencent Holdings and Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, rounded out the top five.

The rich list is a ranking of China's wealthiest individuals, with a wealth cut-off of 2 billion yuan, or $310 million.

According to Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report's chairperson and chief researcher, new energy has had an excellent year, while real estate, home tutoring services, pork production, and video gaming have had a poor year.

"New energy is the big story of the year, with eight of the ten fastest risers related to new energy, led by Zeng (of CATL) and including EV makers Wei Jianjun & Han Xuejuan of Great Wall Motor and Wang Chuanfu of BYD, solar makers Liu Hanyuan of Tongwei, and related miners, including Luo Liguo of Hesheng Silicon, up 6.5 times to US$21.7 billion."

According to the list, the average 'Hurun Rich Lister' was born in 1965, started his business in 1994 at the age of 29, broke into the list in 2012 at the age of 47, and is now 56 years old with US$1.9 billion.

"Twenty years ago, we could only find 19 individuals with $300 million, but over the last 20 years, this has grown over 100 times to nearly 3,000, demonstrating the growth of the Chinese economy." According to Hoogewerf, "based on this trajectory, expect the Hurun China Rich List to grow to as many as 5,000 within ten years."

According to Hoogewerf, it's a similar story in China, where the number of billionaires is increasing.

"There were none in 1999, with the first wave of 100 arriving in 2007, before breaking through the 500-mark in 2015 and nearly doubling to 1185 known billionaires today, 50 percent more than the United States, which has just under 700 known billionaires." At this rate, China will have 2,000 known billionaires by 2030," he predicted.


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