Business / Newsmakers

Chinese rank among world's wealthiest 62

By EMMA GONZALEZ (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-19 02:59

The wealthiest 62 people now own as much as half the world's population of about 3.5 billion people does, as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen rapidly, according to a report by the international charity Oxfam.

Although half of these super-rich individuals come from the United States, the list features five investors from the Chinese mainland and three tycoons from Hong Kong.

On the mainland, technology investors Robin Li, founder of search engine Baidu; Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, the chief of Tencent Holdings; and Jack Ma, the founder of the online shopping platform Alibaba, are included among the world's richest, reflecting the growing importance of Internet-related businesses in China.

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Chinese real estate and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group, and Li Hejun, chairman of energy corporation the Hanergy Group, are also holders of the world's largest fortunes.

In Hong Kong, business tycoon Li Ka-shing and property moguls Lee Shau Kee and the Kwok brothers, Thomas and Raymond, feature on the list.

The report, named "An Economy for the 1 percent" also mentions 17 billionaires from Europe, while the remainder come from countries including Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by more than half a trillion US dollars to $1.76 trillion, an increase of 44 percent since 2010, Oxfam says in the report, released ahead of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

In comparison, the wealth of the poorest has fallen by $1 trillion since 2010, a drop of 41 per cent.

Winnie Byanima, Oxfam International's executive director, said, "The richest can no longer pretend that their wealth benefits everyone — their extreme wealth in fact shows an ailing global economy.

"The recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the majority and particularly the poorest people."

Oxfam has called for action to be taken against tax havens to tackle inequality. It is also asking for governments to invest in healthcare, schools and other vital public services.

It said that ensuring governments collect the taxes that are owed by companies and rich individuals will be vital if world leaders are to meet their goal to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.

Chan May Ling, international program director at Oxfam Hong Kong, said: "I believe that the Chinese government has implemented appropriate tax reform. ... The key issue is that the new Chinese rich and the middle-class can help to contribute to poverty alleviation work by paying appropriate taxes."

Despite the widening wealth gap globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen by 650 million since 1981, even though the global population grew by 2 billion during this time, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Much of this change has been affected by the rise of China, which alone accounted for half a billion people moving out of extreme poverty, the OECD said.

Chan said: "China is a unique case. No other country has lifted so many people out of poverty in such a short period of time.

"Therefore, the challenge is to implement a sustainable economic model that includes the participation of the poorest sections of the population in economic development and prosperity."

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