Number of Chinese billionaires on the rise

Publisher of luxury magazines and runner of a research institute — Forbes crowned machinery tycoon Liang Wengen as the nation s richest man.

“Even though the stock market is going down, the wealth of the most successful people in China is going up,” Russell Flannery, Forbes senior editor and Shanghai bureau chief, told reporters.

He pointed to a domestic building spree, higher demand for consumer goods and breakneck growth as driving the increase in wealth.

“The high GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate simply gives a big platform and a lot of room for people to find new businesses,” he said.

Liang, co-founder of machinery company Sany, topped the Forbes list with wealth of $9.3 billion. The Hurun report estimated his wealth at $11 billion.

The construction tycoon moved to the number one spot from third last year, as China s building boom created demand for Sany s cranes and excavators.

In second place on the Forbes list was Robin Li, co-founder of China s top Internet search engine Baidu, with wealth of $9.2 billion.

Baidu has reaped gains from the partial exit from the China market of rival Google, after the US Internet giant clashed with Beijing over censorship.

Two brothers took third and fourth place — Liu Yongxing of East Hope Group, China s largest animal feed producer, and his younger brother Liu Yonghao whose company New Hope Group has interests ranging from feed to finance.

Beverage magnate Zong Qinghou of soft-drink maker Wahaha fell to fifth place this year from first in 2010.

The total wealth of the 400 people on the list was $459 billion this year, up from around $423 billion last year, Forbes said.

The United States currently has about 413 billionaires, according to a list released by Forbes in March.

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