Our uncle from America is now to be sought in China… According to Forbes, the magnates of the Middle Kingdom are the most numerous entrants to the world ranking of billionaires 2017. If the Americans have 565, they are followed by the Chinese who align 486, a cumulative fortune of 1340 billion dollars. And it is not about to stop: according to PwC, the Chinese economy generates a new billionaire per week. Nine of the first twenty fortunes remain real estate, especially in Hong Kong, like the number one Li Ka-shing and his 33 billion dollars. Almost tied, Wang Jianlin, boss of Dalian Wanda, mixes real estate and entertainment. Its latest fad, the construction of gigantic amusement parks, materializes with the opening last year of Wanda City, in Nanchang, intended to compete with the Disney park in Shanghai.
The super-rich Chinese come from Internet services (Ma Huateng with Tencent), e-commerce (Jack Ma with Alibaba) as well as search engines (Robin Li with Baidu), home deliveries (Wang Wei with SF Express ) or video games (William Ding). The industry is not left out with Lei Jun, the boss of Xiaomi phones, or Wang Wenyin, the king of copper mines. On the other hand, Wang Chuanfu, ranked the richest Chinese by Forbes in 2015, saw its capital shrink to $ 4.2 billion, tumbling to 34e national place.
“Nothing is immutable”
And yet, this engineer by training dreams of Elon Musk of the Middle Kingdom. Its motto – “Everything can be changed, nothing is immutable” – sounds like a Silicon Valley mantra. He passes, as he chooses, for an insolent fool or for a clairvoyant who realizes his dreams, as underlined by the name of his company BYD, Build your dream, founded in 1994. This manufacturer of mobile phone batteries at its beginnings is then thrown headlong into the adventure of the electric car. With the ambition to become the first Chinese car manufacturer and to obtain the first place in the world for electric vehicles. A disproportionate dream? Warren Buffett believes in it, taking 10% of the capital of BYD in 2010. Like their American counterparts, the new Chinese billionaires are without complexes.
However, their life is not always a smooth river. A dozen bosses of very large companies have disappeared in China in recent months. Some are languishing in prison or are victims of unfortunate accidents.
But most reappear. Xiao Jinhua ($ 6 billion), boss of Tomorrow Group, a Hong Kong-based banking, insurance and real estate company, was kidnapped in his town and then kept in mainland China for several days last February. before reappearing. Guo Guangchang (6.9 billion), shareholder of Fosun and Club Med, disappeared in December 2015 before resurfacing in the United States a week later.
Eclipses that often coincide with the launch of anti-corruption investigations. The Chinese Communist Party is not hostile to billionaires, however. Parliament is home to nearly a hundred – out of 3,000 deputies. The apparent passion of these wealthy Chinese for politics can be explained in part by the state’s grip on the economy. A deputy’s seat allows influential members of the Party to be approached, which can make all the difference. Maybe even reduce the risk of disappearance.