Selling 5.8 million pigs in a China riddled by African Swine Fever catapulted a pig farmer-couple into the top 20 spot of the 2019 Hurun China Rich List, released in early October.
Qin Yinglin (54) and his wife Qian Ying (53), owners of Shenzhen-listed Muyuan, broke into the higher echelons of the country’s rich list when their wealth tripled after selling pigs in a market where pork prices shot up due to an outbreak of swine fever. The list is the ranking of the richest individuals in China with a wealth cut off of CNY 2 billion ($290 million).
While ‘Hotpot King’ Zhang Yong and his wife Shu Ping who own Haidilao, a chain of hotpot restaurants, made it to the top 10, ‘Soya Sauce King’ Pang Kang saw his wealth grow as well. As many as 1,819 individuals made the wealth cut-off of CNY 2 billion, with an average age of 54. Eleven people born in the 90s made the list, of them two self-made 27-year-olds: Chen Xiaoliang of online advertiser Duiba and Ge Yuesheng of Bitcoin miner Bitmain.
Over a week after the list was released, a Credit Suisse report revealed that the US ($3.8 trillion), China ($1.9 trillion) and Europe ($1.1 trillion) contributed the most to global wealth growth. Moreover, China now accounts for 100 million of the richest 10 per cent of people in the world.
Technology dominated the top 10 of the Hurun China Rich List this year. Specifically, the top two spots of the list: former chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma remained the richest man on the Chinese mainland with a net worth of $39 billion according to the list released annually.
He was followed by Chairman and CEO of Tencent Holdings Pony Ma — not related to Jack — with a net worth of $37 billion.
Though tech overtook investments to assume third place, manufacturing and real estate still make up just under 40 per cent of the list. Of the proportion of women on the list, 70 per cent are self-made, according to Hurun Research Institute. The country’s richest woman is Yang Huiyan, 38, scion of property developer Country Garden with $25 billion.
“You might say that China has 1.4 billion people, and the US only has over 300 million people. Of course, China has more billionaires. But you have to realize that in 1978, the Chinese had nothing. If you count the billionaires on a list like this, it signifies many things,” Renmin University Business School Associate Professor Majid Ghorbani told The Indian Express.
Ghorbani said that in contrast, many Chinese billionaires are “self-made”. “Not only does China has the highest number of self-made billionaires, but also self-made women billionaires, which indicates more equal opportunity for women… compared to many other countries,” he said.
While the list is seen as a snapshot of China’s private sector on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, it is also the first time in 21 years that it has shrunk for two consecutive years.
“While last year could be put down to a 20 per cent drop in the stock exchange, on the back of a slowing economy and the US-China trade, this year – in a year when stock markets have risen slightly – the shrink in the list is due to the impact of the digital economy. Tech entrepreneurs are replacing those from the traditional powerhouses of manufacturing and real estate,” Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report said in a statement. “Wealth is concentrating into the hands of those who are able to adapt to the digital economy.”
China’s capital city of Beijing has the highest concentration of rich listers – 16% of the list – while Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong followed. Fun fact about rich listers’ Chinese star signs: “Those born in the Year of the Rabbit top the list for the eighth consecutive year, followed by dragons. Rats are still the worst performers this year.”