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Hurun Report (《胡润百富》)

Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, at interview with author

Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, at interview with Jian 

I’ve heard about the Hurun Report and the China Rich List before, but never read the magazine or the list. Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun in Chinese, founder and Chairman of the Hurun Report, visited Chicago last week. I had the honor of listening to his talk and conducting a one-on-one interview with him.

The fast accumulation of wealth by leading Chinese entrepreneurs has become an astonishing phenomenon. Hurun started the report in 1999, tracking the top 1,000 wealthiest Chinese, with top ones worthy of more than US$10 billions.

According to Hurun, there are 263 billionaires (US$) in China on record. He estimated that the real number is about 750, because many Chinese don’t want to showcase their wealth.

“With every billionaire known publicly, there are two hidden,” said Hurun.

He pointed out that all these billionaires now have one thing in common: “They are all going global,” he said.

These top net worth individuals accumulated their wealth largely from manufacturing, real estate, investment, natural resources, retail, entertainment, etc., according to Hurun.

Hurun said the image of these super rich had gone through a dramatic change in China, from totally negative, related to corruption, to a recognition of their ability.

“You can get lucky only so many times,” Hurun said. “You get to have the ability to develop and manage your business.”

These super rich are going global now via acquisitions and investment.

“It’s a personal insurance policy and a vehicle to provide better education for their children abroad,” said Hurun.

Rupert Hoogewerf talking to Kellogg's alumni at the Northwestern University

Rupert Hoogewerf talking to Kellogg’s alumni at the Northwestern University

Hurun will release its China Rich List in August. For 2012, the top capped at over US$12 billion, and cut off at 1,000 is US$288 million. Hurun said a survey indicated that 14% of the top wealthy individuals are in the process of applying for immigration, and 46% are seriously considering immigration. But the common practice is they get their children and/or spouses immigrant status, while they remain in China.

He said 80% of them intend to send their children abroad to study.

China’s newly rich are having a major impact on the consumption of luxury goods in the world. It has passed Russia (No. 2) and Japan (No. 3) to become the No. 1 luxury good consumption country.

Hurun is here in the U.S. visiting business leaders and municipal officials in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, developing relationship with them so as to provide better services to the Chinese entrepreneurs on his list.

“Hurun Report is acknowledged authority on China’s top entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals,” said Elizabeth Harrington, who has taken the role of Hurun’s U.S. publisher at large. “We’d like to work with Hurun to attract these Chinese to Chicago.”

“Hurun is not a traditional publisher,” said Bill Liu, who works with Harrington on Hurun’s business relations in the U.S. “They have developed personal relationship with their clients. We want to conduct research on these Chinese as they come here.”

Chicago has taken many initiatives to attract Chinese business and investors, vowing to make it the “most China-friendly city in the U.S.”

Several Chinese companies have set up operations in the greater Chicago area, including Goldwind, Wanxiang, and Huawei Technologies.

Hurun, or rather Hoogewerf, met with Mayor Emanuel and Former Mayor Daley during his stay in Chicago.

China has begun to change the flow of investment from not just coming in but also going out. Many countries and cities want to attract part of that wealth to boost their economy. It’s a phenomenon unimaginable one or two decades ago.

Of course, not all the pictures are rosy. China is facing increasing challenges in many areas, including severe environmental degradation, corruption, the huge gap between the rich and the poor, food safety, health care, and welfare, to name a few.

Despite the challenges, China has emerged from what Orville Schell called “a basket” to a world economic power, and along the way, has produced an incredible number of “self-made” billionaires within an astonishing short period of time.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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