Despite the looming global financial crisis, the average wealth of China's richest individuals surged in the past year, a researcher announced on Thursday in Beijing.
"China's rich have defied the global financial crisis with another record year of growth," said Rupert Hoogewerf, publisher of the Hurun Report, a magazine that publishes the annual China Rich List, a ranking of China's wealthiest individuals.
Property remained the biggest source of wealth for those on the list, but the fastest growing sources of wealth were in the commodities, healthcare, IT and retail sectors, Hoogewerf said at a press conference held to introduce the 2011 Hurun China Rich List compiled by the Hurun Research Institute.
The annual ranking of China's richest people names 1,000 people with individual wealth of over two billion yuan (about 313 million U.S. dollars). Their average age, this year, is 51.
The list shows that, despite the continuing global financial crisis, 2011 is a record year for China's rich, with average personal wealth totaling 924 million U.S. dollars, according to the list.
Liang Wengen, chairman of China's heavy machinery giant Sany Group, has been named the wealthiest person in the Chinese mainland. His personal fortune totaled 70 billion yuan.
Despite the looming global financial crisis, China's economy has continued to grow vigorously and steadily, which is apparent in the rich list, said Hoogewerf, who is also the chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Research Institute.
Of the top 100 entrepreneurs that made the list in 2010, 98 stayed on this list this year, and the average wealth of everyone on the list surged, he said.
This was the 13th annual ranking of the richest individuals in the Chinese mainland since the Hurun Report started the China Rich List in 1999.
The explosive growth of China's private sector contrasts sharply with the dull global economy, according to Wang Zhongming, vice secretary-general of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
The fact that some of China's entrepreneurs have changed their rankings on the list is evidence that the country's economy is transforming and upgrading, Wang said.
The Hurun Rich List is not only an indicator of China's economic might, but also demonstrates the evolution of China's social and political system, as more entrepreneurs are becoming involved in philanthropy and political affairs, according to Hoogewerf. Thirty percent of the 50 richest people in China hold political office; five percent of the top 10 are involved in politics.
In order to achieve steady and continuous economic growth, China should advocate "healthy" wealth acquisition and discourage people from trying to get rich quickly through duplicitous means, Wang said.