Beijing: China's wealthy are flourishing despite President Xi Jinping's massive campaign against corruption, as 2,130 Chinese people now have a combined fortune of a staggering USD 2.6 trillion, according to a high-profile rich list.
Xu Jiayin, chairman of real estate developer Evergrande Group, has emerged as China's richest man with assets worth USD 43 billion, displacing last year's topper Wang Jianlin, on the Hurun Report.
At least 74 individuals joined the elite club with fortunes of more than USD 300 million in this year's list, adding to the 2,056 who made last year's list, bringing their combined assets to USD 2.6 trillion, roughly the same size as the GDP of the UK, the world's fifth largest economy, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today.
However there was also substantial change at the top of the rich list with fortunes fluctuating as Wang dropped to fifth position after he came under the government's scanner.
The share price of his embattled Wanda Group saw Wang's family's net worth slump 28 per cent to USD 23 billion.
"Overall, the Hurun Rich List has grown faster than any year since 2007, with the possible exception of 2015," said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher.
Evergrande is China's largest property group by sales, and since the start of this year, the price of its shares in Hong Kong has risen by 465 per cent.
Pony Ma Huateng, founder and chief executive of Tencent took the second spot on the rich list with a net worth of USD 37 billion, overtaking Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma at USD 30 billion, who ranked third.
Fourth on the list is China's richest woman, Yang Huiyan, vice-chairman and the largest shareholder of real estate developer Country Garden, who saw her wealth triple to USD 24 billion.
Some of the billionaires have also come under the scanner of the government's anti-corruption campaign.
Aside from real estate, technology names continued to dominate the wealth rankings with Baidu's Robin Li, and NetEase's Ding Lei both making the top 10.
"China's entrepreneurs have come a long way. Back in 1999, when I put out the first list, I managed to rank 50 people. Today we have almost that number just from Alibaba," the Post quoted Hoogewerf as saying.
Of the 2,130 individuals with assets above USD 300 million each, 43 came from Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Financial.
Meanwhile, a number of individuals who made last year's rich list have fallen out of favour with Chinese authorities.
Among them, Xiao Jianhua, who disappeared from Hong Kong's Four Seasons hotel in January, makes the 2017 list with a net worth of USD 4.5 billion. And Guo Wengui, the former real estate tycoon now living in New York, has dropped off the lost.
Others have slipped down the list for more prosaic reasons. Jia Yueting of LeEco dropped to 1,978th place from 31st, after supply chain and cash flow problems resulted in his wealth shrinking by 95 per cent.
The Hurun Report said its calculations were done using financial disclosures and other data accurate as of August 15.
The report noted it had "inevitably missed" some individuals who deserved to be included. Among these, the report pointed to successful entrepreneurs such as Zhang Ruimin of Haier, Peter Ma Mingzhi of PingAn, Sun Yafang of Huawei.
"For every one we have found, we estimate there to be two that we have missed," Hoogewerf said.