Beverage magnate Zong Qinghou tops the list of the richest men in China with a personal wealth worth an estimated US$12 billion, according to the partial results of a survey released Wednesday.
Zong Qinghou, chairman of Wahaha Group, attends a news conference in Hangzhou July 3, 2007
Photo: Reuters " style="text-decoration:none"> Zong Qinghou, chairman of Wahaha Group, attends a news conference in Hangzhou July 3, 2007 Photo: Reuters
Zong, chairman of China's biggest beverage maker Wahaha, shot past last year's richest man, Wang Chuanfu of car and battery maker BYD Co Ltd, on the Hurun Rich List 2010.
Wang is now 12th on the list with wealth of $4.6 billion, the survey found. U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett owns 10 percent in BYD via his Berkshire Hathaway.
"China probably now has the largest number of billionaires anywhere in the world," Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and publisher of the Hurun rich list, said in a statement.
"We already know of 189 U.S. dollar billionaires in China this year, but you can safely say that we have missed at least half again, meaning there are between 400 and 500 USD billionaires," he added.
Number two on the list is Li Li and family thanks to their company Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Co which listed in Shenzhen in May.
In third place is Zhang Yin and family of Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd, and fourth on the list is Liang Wengen of Sany Heavy Equipment.
Robin Li of internet search engine Baidu Inc is joint fifth, being worth $5.3 billion, the same amount as Yan Bin, a drinks and property tycoon also known by his Thai name, Chanchai Ruayrungruang.
"2010 is ... the first time in ten years a property tycoon has not made the top five," Hoogewerf said.
The full list of 1,363 individuals with personal wealth of at least 1 billion yuan ($149.5 million) will be released next month.
The unveiling of the top five comes ahead of a dinner hosted by Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates to encourage China's own band of super-rich, who have benefited from the country's booming economic growth, to donate more to charity.
Both men are scheduled to brief reporters in Beijing on the closed-door dinner on Thursday.