Zhong Shanshan, chairman of bottled water company Nongfu Spring, remains China’s richest person © Oriental Image via Reuters Conne

The wealth of China’s 100 richest people shrank by more than a third in 2022 as the country’s zero Covid policy, faltering economic growth and a push towards ‘common prosperity’ weighed on valuations of major businesses in the country and eat away at its private wealth.

The wealth of the country’s richest tycoons fell 39% to $907.1 billion in 2022, from $1.48 billion the previous year, according to Forbes’ richest list, the richest steep decline since the publication began compiling the list over 20 years ago.

Only two of the names on the list saw their wealth increase, Forbes said, while 79 billionaires grew poorer.

Forbes blamed the decline on Beijing’s tech crackdown, its Covid zero economic limitation policies, slowing economic growth and concerns over the outcome of the 20th Communist Party Congress in October.

The fall in the value of the renminbi has further shaken fortunes.

Zhong Shanshan, chairman of Nongfu Spring, the bottled water company, remained at the top of the list with wealth of $62.3 billion, down just 5% from a year earlier.

Robin Zeng, chairman of CATL, the world’s largest electric vehicle battery maker, saw his wealth drop 43% to $28.9 billion, while Pony Ma, chief executive of internet giant Tencent, whose the stock price hit a four-year low this year, saw his wealth fall by more than half.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has also seen his personal fortune nearly halved after the value of his company plummeted around 60% in the past year.

Shein founder Chris Xu was a notable newcomer, with an estimated fortune of $10 billion, while Evergrand chairman Hui Ka Yan, once one of the country’s richest people, dropped out the 100 richest in the country.

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