Highlights from the last week of China business news: Billionaires galore in two rich lists released this week; new major military postings, apparently with a conflict in Taiwan in mind.
The week in lists
It’s been a week of records and rankings in the China business world. First, Forbes published its China rich list, placing 26-year-old Yang Huiyan at the top of it. Then, another eponymously named wealth index, the Hurun Report (after the Chinese name of founder – and Forbes alum – Rupert Hoogewerf), also named the young Ms Yang China’s richest individual. But there were seismic shifts in the lists as a whole. Previously populated by mere multi-millionaires, they are now dominated by billionaires. All 40 people ranked by Forbes are in the 10-figure league, while Hurun says China now has 108 billionaires, a more than 700% jump over last year’s figure. If Hurun is right, it also makes China home to the second-largest population of wealth-mongers (or is that “high net-worth individuals?”) on the planet, behind the US. And no wonder the Chinese are fattening their bank accounts. The A-share market closed at a new record high as soon as it reopened after the weeklong National Day break, and another on Wednesday, breaking 5,800. And China tops the global IPO list, with US$30 billion raised so far this year. In certain other rankings, however, China fares less well. Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index placed China 72nd out of 180 countries, tied with India – and that’s with an improved score from years past.
Who’s worried about Taiwan?
The New York Times’ David Lague seems to be paying special attention to China’s official military newspaper, the Liberation Army Daily, lately. He wrote two pieces about major events within the opaque military based on clues gleaned from the official organ. Taiwan is top of mind for the armed forces, as four senior military officers with experience in planning for combat with the Taiwanese have been promoted ahead of the Party Congress (which convenes October 15 – mark your calendars!). The army’s General Chen Bingde was promoted to chief of the general staff, which means he oversees daily operations of China’s armed forces. However, the move was kept at a low profile – no official announcement about it has been made, and Chen’s new post was mentioned only in passing in a small Liberation Army Daily report. It is also unknown where his predecessor, Liang Guanglie, will be moved, although he is expected to become the new defense minister. Meanwhile, Taiwan held its first National Day military parade in 16 years, which prompted the LAD to run a story on China’s powerful air defense radar network, which it claims can also be used for “offensive” purposes. Subtle, very subtle.
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