128 Billionaires On Forbes List Of 400 Richest Chinese

Total Wealth Of 400 On This Year’s list Rose To $423 Billion, Up From $314 Billion Last Year

This year's #1: Zong Qinghou of Wahaha

This year's #1: Zong Qinghou of Wahaha

This week, Forbes released its list of China’s 400 richest. With 128 billionaires this year (up from 79 last year) and 100 new “inductees,” the list reflects both the extent to which China’s economy has maintained impressive growth as well as the state of flux in China’s general wealth landscape. As Forbes points out, entrepreneurs in areas focusing on consumer service have largely come out on top this year, with Zong Qinghou of beverage producer Wahaha topping the list of wealthiest Chinese. A growing number of list inductees came from the pharmaceuticals/healthcare industry this year, a trend Forbes calls “a welcome development.”

Another interesting development in this year’s list is the disappearance of many real estate or automotive tycoons from its upper echelons. Forbes notes the cooling of the Chinese real estate market amid government efforts to curb speculation, and points out that last year’s #1, Wang Chuanfu of BYD Automotive, dropped well below the top rankings as a result of the problems his company has had with production delays, profits and distribution this year.

As Forbes goes on to point out, though its China “Rich List” illustrates how far China’s economy has come, it also exposes glaring weaknesses and issues with transparency (or lack thereof) in China’s business world:

Not everyone whose name appears on this year’s list agrees with our estimate. Some asked not to be mentioned in print even though their main source of wealth is public. One company asserted that public documents regarding its ownership were not correct–and that therefore a main owner shouldn’t be listed.

The desire of a number of China’s richest and most successful people to hide from the public cannot possibly be a good sign for China’s emergence as a respected world economic power. It is difficult to see how companies led by murky figures will ultimately help brand value, for either the country or their own products and services. Perhaps China’s own domestic market is so huge that they don’t care.

Check out the full coverage of the “China’s 400 Richest” list on the Forbes website.