Ta ma de! Remember that China is a country where a good percentage of the population still lives on $2 or less a day and the average income per years (even with purchasing power parity) is less than $8K a year, real dollars are $2K a year. Mexico by contrast has 1 billionaire and $11K (PPP) per capita, real $8K per year.

China Has 106 Billionaires, Up From 15 Last Year (Update1)
By Allen T. Cheng and Dune Lawrence


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Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) — China has 106 billionaires, up from 15 last year, as surging stocks boost the wealth of the nation’s richest people, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report.

Yang Huiyan, the 26-year-old daughter of a property developer, is the nation’s wealthiest person with $17.5 billion, according to the annually published list. She also topped a list released by Forbes Asia two days ago.

China’s billionaire tally is second only to that of the U.S., which has 400, according to the Hurun Report, as surging mainland and Hong Kong stock markets have boosted wealth.
“China may have 200 billionaires, we just haven’t identified them yet — there are a lot of people out there who don’t report their assets,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, who has produced the list since 1999. “The new wealth we haven’t discovered yet is lying in the stock markets.”

The mainland benchmark CSI 300 Index of stocks has nearly quadrupled in the past year. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is up 41 percent this year through yesterday, the strongest annual performance since 1999 if it holds through year-end. Mainland and Hong Kong-based companies raised HK$160.3 billion in Hong Kong this year through Sept. 30, up from HK$133.9 billion last year.

Yang’s net worth rocketed after her father gave her his shares in property developer Country Garden Holdings Co. and the company raised HK$14.8 billion ($1.91 billion) in its Hong Kong debut last April.

Nine Dragons

No. 2 on the list, Zhang Yin, saw the value of her holding in the paper-recycling company she founded, Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd., triple to $10 billion since last year. She was the richest person in mainland China last year with $3.4 billion after Nine Dragons went public.

The 800 people on this year’s Hurun list are all worth more than $105 million and have a combined net worth of $457 billion. Their average wealth doubled over the past year to $562 million, according to a statement sent by Hoogewerf.

The top 10 on the Hurun list included four people who made their fortune in property development, reflecting China’s rapid urbanization and surging real-estate market. Shares of Country Garden, which builds modestly priced homes in Southern China and has a land bank of 45 million square meters, jumped 82 percent since its IPO through yesterday. Last year, Yang and nine relatives were worth $2 billion, according to Hoogewerf.

New York IPO

Peng Xiaofeng, tied for sixth with $5.3 billion, also entered the top 10 after a share sale, this one in New York. LDK Solar Co., the company he founded that makes wafers to convert sunlight into electricity, raised $469.4 million selling 17.4 million American depositary receipts in May.

The growing affluence in China, where 150 million people still live on less than $1 a day, according to the World Bank, illustrates the challenge of the nation’s uneven growth.
The world’s fourth-largest economy expanded 11.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the fastest pace in more than 12 years. At the same time, the gap between rich and poor has widened more in China than any Asian country besides Nepal, according to an August report from the Asian Development Bank.

China’s leaders will meet next week at the 17th Party Congress, a gathering that takes place every five years. The Party will enshrine President Hu Jintao’s concept of balanced development and “Harmonious Society” in its constitution at the congress, state-run Xinhua News Agency said in September.

“The polarization between rich and poor is getting worse,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, senior fellow of the Washington, D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation and author of a book on Chinese politics in the Hu era. “This is why President Hu Jintao is stressing the doctrine of Harmonious Society. The party is really worried.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Allen T. Cheng in Beijing at acheng13@bloomberg.net ; Dune Lawrence in Beijing at dlawrence6@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: October 10, 2007 01:12 EDT