There are two points to take away from the latest China Rich List from Hurun.
The first is that the people who have got rich in China have got rich by selling goods and services into the domestic market, not through exports.
It is a myth that China got rich through its exports to the rest of the world. As Wen Jiabao never tires of pointing out, the amount of money that goes to China out of the price of every iPhone or Playstation is minimal.
The people that make the money are the foreigners who outsource their manufacturing, and the component makers and raw material suppliers (often also foreign).
A good 95% of the billionaires on Hurun’s list got rich through domestic Chinese consumption, and only 5% made their money through exports.
There are now at least 1363 people in China with a billion yuan ($150 million), up from a mere 24 a decade ago. And there are 189 people with billion dollar fortunes. And despite the falling Shanghai stock exchange, their wealth is still growing – up 64% in the last two years.
The second point worth noting is the appearance of consumer goods magnates at the top of the list, with Zong Qinghou of Wahaha, the flavoured drinks maker, at the very pinnacle. The trend appears to be that property magnates are slipping, and being replaced by consumer goods tycoons. Is this a taste of the rebalancing of the Chinese economy that is underway towards greater consumption?