CHINA'S richest have grown richer despite slowing economic growth, with this year's Forbes China Rich List identifying a record 168 billionaires, up from 113 the previous year.
The combined wealth of the top 100 wealthiest Chinese also surged 44 per cent to US$316 billion (S$393 billion) this year, in contrast with a 7 per cent drop last year, according to the latest list released yesterday by the American business magazine.
Leading the pack was real estate and movie mogul Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda group, who saw his net worth go from US$8 billion last year to US$14.1 billion this year.
This came amid a rebound in property prices in China and Mr Wang's expansion into the entertainment business at home and abroad.
Just last month, Mr Wang enjoyed the limelight when he invited Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, star of The Great Gatsby, to the port city of Qingdao to attend the launch of his US$8 million movie hub project.
Wanda group owns 71 shopping plazas and 40 five-star hotels, Forbes said in the release.
Mr Wang overtook drinks king Zong Qinghou of Wahaha Group as China's richest man. Mr Zong was in the news recently after he was stabbed in the hand by an unemployed man upset with the tycoon for refusing to hire him.
Forbes' findings echoed another China rich list released last month by the Hurun Report, which also found a rise in the number of US dollar billionaires to a record 315.
China's economy grew just 7.7 per cent last year, its slowest since 1999.
"On one level, there appears to be a disconnect between the very rapid growth in wealth and the country's easing economic growth. Yet it reflects what is happening in the real economy and the ability of smart business people to profit from it," said Forbes senior editor Russell Flannery.