Bottled water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become China’s richest person, according to a ranking released on Wednesday after a government campaign to rein in the big fortunes affected traditional ranking leaders such as Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba.
Zhong saw his fortune grow after his Nongfu Spring, mineral water, and Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise companies began listing on the Stock Exchange, fueled by high demand for covid-19 tests.
The businessman’s fortune is valued at 60.5 billion dollars, according to the Hurun Rich List.
Zhong was third on last year’s list, but rose to the top after the government’s wealth redistribution campaign in the name of equality, which took billions of dollars off the fortunes of other tycoons.
Jack Ma, last year’s richest, dropped to fifth after his fortune dropped 36 percent to $39.6 billion.
Ma and Alibaba lost Beijing’s sympathy after the businessman criticized the country’s financial regulations in a 2020 speech.
Following the statements, Chinese authorities canceled an initial public offering by Alibaba’s Ant financial group and took a series of measures to rein in technology companies and big business.
Pony Ma, president of technology group Tencent, has dropped two places and appears in fourth place by Chinese restrictions on video games, which caused a 19% loss of his fortune.
In second place comes TikTok founder Zhang Yiming.
The Hurun Research Institute, which compiles the list, said that for the first time no real estate entrepreneur appears in the top 10.
The industry’s biggest loser was Xu Jiayin, founder of the troubled real estate giant Evergrande.
Xu topped the list in 2017 and last year he was fifth, but in 2021 he dropped to 70th position.
Evergrande faces a liquidity crisis, making it difficult to repay a debt of 300 billion dollars.
The list of citizens in China with a wealth of more than 2 billion yuan (310 million dollars) has risen this year to 2,918 people, according to the list of the Hurun Institute.
The growth in the electric car market, in particular, has increased the fortunes of several entrepreneurs.
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