China tops list of world richest women

October 12, 2010 12:00 am

, BEIJING, Oct 12 – More than half of the 20 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese, with their average fortune beating that of US talk show host Oprah Winfrey and author JK Rowling, a list showed Tuesday.

The three richest women on the planet are Chinese, led by paper-recycling queen Zhang Yin, who has a personal fortune of 5.6 billion dollars, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which compiles data on wealthy individuals.

Of the 20 richest self-made female billionaires, 11 are Chinese, with wealth averaging 2.6 billion dollars — compared with ninth-placed Winfrey\’s 2.3 billion dollars, the report said.

JK Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter books, came bottom of the list, with one billion dollars.

"There is no other country that comes even close to touching the number of self-made women in China. They are now head and shoulders above any other country," said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun rich list.

The list includes three billionaires from the United States, three from Britain and one each from Italy, Russia and Spain.

The richest non-Chinese person on the list was Rosalia Mera of Spanish clothing store Zara with 3.5 billion dollars.

Hoogewerf partly attributed the Chinese women\’s business success to the government\’s one-child policy and free childcare provided by many grandparents, which has enabled them to spend time building their empires.

"That makes a huge difference," he told AFP, adding that China\’s long acceptance of women working outside the home has been another significant factor.

The richest person in China — a man — was Zong Qinghou, the founder of China\’s largest soft drinks maker Wahaha with a personal fortune of 12 billion dollars, the report said.

Zong, 65, leapt 11 places to top the annual list of Chinese who have personal wealth of at least 150 million dollars. The list has expanded to 1,363 people from 1,000 in 2009.

Zong\’s climb up the rankings comes a year after French food giant Danone ended its long-standing feud with Wahaha by agreeing to sell its 51 percent stake in their joint ventures.

Danone had accused Zong of breaching an agreement after he set up an entire production and distribution network in parallel to the French firm\’s joint ventures with Wahaha.

Hoogewerf said 95 percent of the people on this year\’s rich list had made their fortunes from China\’s growing domestic demand and only five percent relied on exports — suggesting Beijing\’s efforts to retool the economy could be working.

The average fortune has leapt 64 percent over the past two years to 577 million dollars, with property the biggest source of wealth.

Less than one percent of people on the rich list — whose average age is 51 compared with around 65 in the West — inherited their wealth, while 12 percent have been appointed to "significant government advisory posts".

Hoogewerf said he found 189 dollar billionaires but estimated there could be as many as 400-500 in China, which would make it the largest number in the world.


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