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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
China rich list omits tarnished tycoons
Yang Bin
Yang Bin: Omitted from the list

Let some people get rich first, said the late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping.

And scanning the list of the country's 100 wealthiest people, there is no doubt about the extent to which people have gone and done just that.

But the roster is also a reminder that although today's China may be light years away from the Maoist decades of egalitarian slogans, wealth can be as controversial and precarious here as ever.

Conspicuously absent from this year's list are last year's number two, the orchid tycoon, Yang Bin, who was recently reported to be under house arrest in north-eastern China for alleged illegal business activities.

Also missing is number three, Yang Rong, a top motor industry executive, who has fled to the US to avoid arrest on charges of economic crimes.

Business magazine Forbes, which compiled the list, said the pair had been excluded because their assets could not be reliably estimated.

The journalist behind the list added that the cases of the two unrelated Yangs have made many of China's super-wealthy nervous and keen to maintain a low profile.

But he said that few people strongly objected to being put on the list.

Hot issues

Certainly no stranger to the ranks is the man who is top-ranked - Larry Yung, son of a former vice-president, and valued at $850m.

But this list comes out amid a time when tax evasion and the wealth gap in China are increasingly hot political issues.

And they are here to stay.

Next month's crucial Communist Party congress is likely to confirm that the leadership is on a course to take the party even further away from its revolutionary roots, and try to boost its appeal to China's new class of capitalist entrepreneurs.

See also:

08 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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