China's Got a New Richest Man, and it's Not Jack Ma

By Emily Guzman, October 13, 2017

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Jack Ma, Wang Jianlin and Pony Ma, step aside, there's a new richest man in China: Xu Jiayin of the Evergrande Group. 

The real estate mogul (pictured at top) dethroned previous #1 Wang to move to the top of the list with a net worth of USD43 billion after a six month gain of USD30 billion, according to the 2017 edition of the Hurun Report. Xu's earnings have grown four-fold since last year.

Here are the top 10 biggest earners in China, according to the list:

1. Xu Jiayin, Evergrande
2. Ma Huateng (Pony Ma), Tencent
3. Ma Yun (Jack Ma) and family, Alibaba
4. Yang Huiyan, Country Garden
5. Wang Jianlin and family, Wanda
6. Wang Wei, SF Express
7. Li Yanhong (Robin Li) and Ma Dongmin (Melissa Ma Dongmin), Baidu
8. He Xiangjian and He Jianfeng, Midea
9. Yan Hao and family, China Pacific Construction
10 (tie). Ding Lei, Netease 
10 (tie). Li Shufu and Li Xingxing, Geely

In other new developments, Pony Ma of Tencent overtook Jack Ma of Alibaba to capture second place. 

Pony Ma and Jack Ma
A tale of two Ma's: Pony of Tencent (left) and Jack of Alibaba (right)

Wang's clan dropped down to fifth place following the sale Wanda’s theme parks and hotels, as well as slew of recent scandals. Tough times could soon be ahead for the Wanda boss, KTV-loving son Wang Sicong, dog Coco and her eight iPhones.

Wang clan
The Wang clan have come under fire for their extravagant lifestyle

An astounding 43 people on the list were from ANT Financial or Alibaba Group. The latter was just named the world's largest e-commerce company, surpassing Amazon. The "Big Three" wealth creating industries were manufacturing, real estate and IT. 

This year, there were 647 billionaires, up 53 from last year and 396 from five years ago. That's a mind-boggling increase from just 15 years ago, when there were zero billionaires on the list. 

This year's list featured 348 new faces, as well as 2,130 individuals with a wealth cut-off of USD300 million, totalling USD2.6 trillion in earnings (equivalent to the GDP of the entire United Kingdom). 

“This year we found more than 2000 individuals with USD300 mill, double that of five years ago and four times that of ten years ago," said Rupert Hoogewerf, the Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Report. "Overall, though, the Hurun Rich List has grown faster than any year since 2007, with the possible exception of 2015.”

"Bike-Sharing King" Dai Wei of Ofo was the youngest self-made entrepreneur on the list at the ripe old age of 26.

Ofo's Dawei
Da Wei

South China's "Silicon Valley," Shenzhen, had 223 of its residents on the list (a gain of 28), inching closer to 'Billionaire Capital of the World' Beijing, which had 300 (a loss of 22). (Shenzhen also happens to be where Tencent's headquarters are located). Shanghai had the third highest number of names on the list with 173, with Hangzhou not far behind at 153. Hangzhou is catching up fast to Shanghai thanks in part to housing Alibaba's world headquarters.

In terms of Chinese zodiac signs, it was a good year for those born in the Year of the Dragon, although Rabbits led the way with most billionaires.

Twenty six percent of people featured on this year's list were women, a two percent increase from last year. Of those, 70 percent were self-made. Yang Huiyan tripled her wealth this year to reclaim the title of richest woman in China for the first time in 11 years, and the fourth richest person on the China list overall (her first appearance in the top ten). The Country Garden Holdings majority shareholder is also now the richest woman in Asia.

Yang Huiyan
Yang Huiyan

"Education King" Zhang Bangxin, 37, of TAL officially became the richest millennial after seeing his wealth triple to USD6 billion. He was followed by "Drone King" Wang Tao, 37, of DJI Innovations. 

There were 148 individuals under 40 years of age — 33 less than last year. Of those millenials, 71 were self-made, up seven from 2016. “There has been a strong surge in entrepreneurship amongst university graduates in the past five years,” said Hoogewerf.

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