Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Chinese women join the super-rich

The Guardian, BEIJING

Half of the world’s wealthiest female billionaires are Chinese, according to a respected ranking published on Tuesday by a Shanghai-based business magazine.

According to the Hurun Report’s “Hurun China’s Women Rich List 2013,” three of the world’s five wealthiest women with assets of more than US$1 billion — and six of its top 10 — are Chinese. None of the world’s top 10 richest men are from China.

China’s wealthiest woman is Yang Huiyan (楊惠妍), the 32-year-old heiress to Country Garden Holdings Co (碧桂園), an expansive property developer in the affluent Guangdong Province. Yang has assets of 51 billion yuan (US$8.33 billion). Yang is followed by Chen Lihua (陳麗華), 72, of Fu Wah International Group (富華國際), an “industrial investment company” founded in Hong Kong in 1988. Chen, worth 37 billion yuan, was named one of “the world’s 100 most influential people” by Time magazine last year for her philanthropic efforts.

About a quarter of the list’s 50 wealthiest women work in real estate, while 18 percent of them are involved in finance. China’s richest women are generally younger than their male counterparts, with an average age of 48, compared with 52.

“What I’ve asked myself is: Why are Chinese women so successful? I think there are a number of different dynamics at play,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, the Hurun Report’s publisher and chairman. “One is that there’s the one-child policy, which means that they have a very short career break. Plus there’s the fact that in Chinese society, children are brought up by grandparents, traditionally,” giving mothers more time to pursue their careers.

“Another dynamic is that it might just be this generation — relatively speaking, they’re much more successful here than in the rest of the world,” he added.

The ranks of China’s super-rich have grown exponentially in recent years. One decade ago, China had no billionaires. Last year, it had 64. When the Hurun Report unveiled this year’s rich list last week, ranking China’s 1,000 wealthiest individuals, it had 315.

Women have also established a growing presence at the highest rungs of the country’s corporations. This year, women held 51 percent of all senior management positions in China — a higher proportion than any other country, according to a report by the Chicago-based accounting firm Grant Thornton.

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