Bottled water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become China’s richest person, according to a ranking published on Wednesday (27/10) after a government crackdown on big fortunes affected traditional top leaders, such as Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba.
Zhong saw his fortune grow after his company Nongfu Spring, a mineral water, and Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise began listing on the stock exchange, due to high demand for COVID-19 tests.
The businessman’s fortune is estimated at $60.5 billion, according to Huron Rich List.
Zhong ranked third on last year’s list, but rose to the top after the government’s drive to redistribute wealth in the name of equality, which laid off a few billion dollars from the fortunes of other magnates.
Jack Ma, the richest man last year, fell to fifth place after his wealth fell 36 percent to $39.6 billion.
Ma and Alibaba lost sympathy for Beijing after the businessman criticized the country’s financial regulations in a speech in 2020.
After the announcements, Chinese authorities canceled an initial public offering of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Group and adopted a series of measures to rein in technology firms and big companies.
Pony Ma, head of technology group Tencent, dropped two places and took fourth place due to Chinese restrictions on electronic games, which caused him to lose 19% of his fortune.
In second place is the founder of TikTok Zhang Yiming.
The Huron Research Institute, which compiles the list, said that for the first time, no real estate entrepreneur has appeared in the top 10.
The biggest loser in the industry was Xu Jiayin, founder of the troubled real estate giant Evergrande.
Xu topped the list in 2017 and last year he placed fifth, but in 2021 dropped to 70th place.
Evergrande is facing a liquidity crunch, making it difficult to repay $300 billion of debt.
The list of Chinese citizens with a fortune of more than 2 billion yuan ($310 million) this year has risen to 2,918, according to the Hurun Institute’s list.
The growth in the electric vehicle market, in particular, has increased the fortunes of many entrepreneurs.
“Gamers. Unfortunate Twitter teachers. Zombie pioneers. Internet fans. Hardcore thinkers.”