It seems that the power and potential of the Chinese economy is endless these days, but it's often difficult to quantify just what the impact this new-found wealth has on the People's Republic. The country famed for boasting the world’s largest population is equally well-known for its Communist regime and has garnered infamy over its controversial treatment of opponents of the government. Now, that same nation is becoming internationally recognized for its wealth and thriving economy. Certainly, the landscape of the country is changing: cities like Beijing and Shanghai are no longer the stand alone metropolises; secondary players such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Dalian are now major cities in their own right. Alongside this new-found wealth, the luxury goods industry in China has exploded with many luxury retail brands traditionally associated with London and Paris now looking to the East to secure their future fortune.
Of course, as the headlines often remind us, China isn't without its problems: while an elite group of the super-rich is clearly emerging, many of China’s citizens are yet to see the trickle-down effects of this booming economy. Millions are living in cramped apartments, commuting through dangerous levels of air pollution and working long hours for little pay. For those who have made it to the top however, the rewards are enromous; the majority of those featured on our top ten list all came from humble beginnings to rise to the status of the billionaire mogul. The image of the Chinese self-made man is seen as evidence that the country will have a lot to contribute in future, with plenty of rising stars China’s rich list. Our lucky ten have holdings in real estate, agriculture, the internet and car manufacturing demonstrating that China’s economy is not - as some economists suggested - relying purely on its property boom to gain momentum. For anyone curious about all this talk of China taking over the world economic stage, take a look at the business practises of these, the top ten richest people in China.
10 Liu Yongxing: $6.1 Billion
9 He Xiangjian: $6.8 Billion
He Ziangjian is a self-made billionaire, founding the home appliances company Midea Group. Not only that, but based on latest estimates, Xiangjian’s wealth has increased significantly this year - by around $2.2 billion, to be precise - as a result of restructuring of the Midea Group and selling off some tributary companies. The Midea Group also has significant real estate holdings across China. At 71, Xiangjian may, however, be considering retiring: In 2011 his son He Jianfeng became a board member of the group. The septuagenarian isn’t quite living a quiet retired life yet, though, as he still remains chairman of Midea Holdings Co., the parent company overseeing his business empire.
8 Jack Ma: $7.1 Billion
Although Jack Ma is a name now firmly associated with online technology, the internet mogul began his career as a language teacher, graduating from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute with a degree in English. Ma moved onto much bigger things when he founded the online company Alibaba Group in 1999. The company owns a variety of e-commerce websites in China, specialising in C2C sales. After 10 years as CEO of the group, Ma stepped down in May of this year but remains executive chairman of the group with an active role in business planning and expansion. At times a controversial figure in business, Ma has been compared to Steve Jobs for his vision - and his strict, firm grip on his business. With continued speculation that the Alibaba Group will expand into online shopping in the West, the company and Mr. Ma are rich list players to watch in 2014.
7 Yang Huiyan: $7.2 Billion
At 32, Yang Huiyan is both the youngest member of our list and the only woman to make it into the top ten list in China. Huiyan made her money after her father made her the majority shareholder in his real estate company, Country Garden. A reclusive figure, Huiyan has seen her wealth decline significantly as a result of the economic crisis, but she still has plenty of reasons to look on the bright side: as well as ranking at 211 in a list of world billionaires, Huyian is also the richest woman in Asia, a title which she has held since she was 26. Although she is shy and retiring when it comes to the media - a trait the heiress shares with her father - reports suggest that she has had an eye on his empire from an early age, attending board meetings since she was a teenager. Sadly for any bachelors with a taste for billionaires, Huyian is already married.
6 Wei Jianjun: $9 Billion
Like most of the moguls featured on our top ten list, Wei Jianjun started out small but ended up in big business - and today he is the chairman of China’s largest private car manufacturers, Great Wall Motors. Jianjun began life as a factory worker before making the move into entrepreneurship and it certainly seems the venture paid off. Great Wall Motors, who specialise in SUV manufacturing, make up a large chunk of the Jianjun fortune. In fact, in the first six months of 2013 the car manufacturers saw their net profits increase 74% as a result of $4.3 billion in sales for the firm. The company’s profits have meant that Wei Jianjun’s rating on the China rich list has gone from number 16 in 2012 to 6 this year; seeing as Jianjun’s motto is “improve a little every day” we may well see him move yet further up the list in the coming year.
5 Ma Huateng: $10.2 Billion
4 Li Hejun: $10.9 Billion
Li Hejun is a newcomer to the Chinese rich list, debuting impressively at number 4. The 46 year old billionaire’s riches have come from his 99% share in the Hanergy Holding Group, a company specialising in solar technology.Li Hejun is the only member of the Chinese rich list to work in the renewable energy sector and considering how highly he is ranked, this may be an area to look into for any future entrepreneurs. When not managing Hanergy, Hejun keeps his eye on the competition, acquiring a number of similar technology-based companies around the world. A definite one to watch for 2014.
3 Robin Li: $11.1 Billion
2 Zong Qinghou: $11.2 Billion
1 Wang Jianlin: $14.1 Billion
The leader of the pack, Wan Jianlin, was recently named by Forbes Asia as their businessman of the year and with a self-made net worth of $14.1 billion, that's hardly surprising. The billionaire is a mogul in the true sense of the word, with assets in real estate, cinema and retail. The business buzz came relatively late to the 59 year old however, who previously served in the Chinese military from the age of 18, leaving in 1986. After this Jianlin moved into the real estate business, and although he got off to a slow start, as the Chinese economy and property market started to grow, so too did his business, with the Dalian Wanda Group the biggest commercial real estate group in China. The company’s assets include around 80 shopping malls as well as 46 luxury hotels across the country. On top of this, this year Jianlin became the owner of the world’s largest cinema chain AMC, who have been struggling in the US of late. The sale, for a reported $2.6 billion, demonstrates the tycoon’s penchant for the world of showbiz; Jianlin famously flew in Leonardo di Caprio and John Travolta for a glamorous opening ceremony of Quingdao, a development poised as a Hollywood in China. Jianlin has upcoming plans for property developments in Hong Kong and London and has acquired the yacht-making company Sunseeker. All in a day’s work for the premier billionaire in China.