Some fearful China billionaires steer clear of rich list

Thu Sep 8, 2011 9:41am EDT
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By Jane Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Growing numbers of China's rich want to avoid publicizing their wealth, Forbes said, reflecting fears of official scrutiny amid a vast and growing rich-poor divide after several billionaires have ended up in jail.

Rural incomes have been rising more slowly than urban incomes for two decades -- a factor that could threaten social stability and the ruling Communist Party's grip on power in a country where 150 million people still live on just $0.50 a day.

More of the newly rich than in recent years asked to be left out of Forbes Asia's latest China rich list, said Russell Flannery, a senior editor at the magazine who oversaw the compilation of the list, which was released on Thursday.

"I think it's a reflection in a bit of a sea change in Chinese society right now," said Flannery. "...There's a lot of concern in China about the wealth gap."

Several once high-flying members of earlier rich lists have ended up in jail, including Huang Guangyu, the founder of Gome Electrical Appliance Holding Ltd, and Shanghai property tycoon Zhou Zhengyi.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in a study released on Thursday estimated that China will account for 60 percent of the rise in high net-worth individuals' wealth in Asia over the next five years.


The latest rich list pitted stolid industrial muscle against high-tech, with the head of an earth-moving company pipping the co-founder of the nation's biggest Internet search engine for the top spot.   Continued...

<p>Gome's new Chairman Zhang Dazhong is led away after a news conference announcing the company's results in Hong Kong March 28, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>