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Super rich get wealthier in China

CHINA'S super rich seem to have put the credit crunch behind them as the average wealth of the nation's richest 1,000 people grow 30 percent to US$571 million in the past 12 months, surpassing the boom of 2007, according to a report today.

Most of China's wealth came from real estate, driven by the country's massive urbanization, with seven out of the top 10 wealthiest individuals in the property sector, according to the annual Hurun Rich List.

Electric car producer Wang Chuanfu tops the list of the mainland's richest people with US$5.1 billion, shooting up 102 places.

Another six new faces have turned up in this year's top 10, representing the biggest shake-up since Hurun Report started the rankings in 1999.

Meanwhile, Huang Guangyu, last year's richest man, has been arrested over alleged market manipulation and Du Shuanghua became another loser after government-backed Shandong Steel took over his Rizhao Steel.

Rong Zhijian is probably the biggest victim of the credit crunch. Rong, now ranked 37 with US$2.4 billion, had to fall on his sword and resign as chairman of Citic Pacific in April after a currency bet that went wrong. Parent company Citic had to shore up the capital of Citic Pacific with US$1.5 billion.

"Despite the greatest wealth destruction in the West in the past 70 years, China's rich are getting richer and putting the credit crunch firmly behind them," said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun Rich List.

"Most of China's wealth creation has been driven by its massive urbanization program, led by property and related industries," said Hoogewerf.

The urban population is expected to increase by 300 million people by 2025, according to the Ministry of Construction, laying the foundation for continued growth.

The number of known US dollar billionaires in China has grown to 130, up from 101 last year and none in 2003.

"There are still a large number of billionaires off the radar screens, managing to build up substantial wealth away from the public spotlight from property, the stock market and investments," said Hoogewerf.


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