Chinese: Filthy Rich

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Are they Tuhao or just Dama?

The first is the Chinese word for filthy, stinking rich, the uncouth bling-blingy rich of the People’s Republic. The second is the name given to middle-aged women dripping in gold. I imagine that two middle-aged women with the yellow bars would lead to a much deserved ‘dispute’ (yes repeating the ideogram for ‘woman’ actually means there’s ‘trouble’, telling you a whole lot about what the Chinese actually think about women insociety).

It doesn’t quite go with the image of the country that we might have once had. But, things change, even the Chinese have the right to hang up their d?ulì conical hats and don something a bit more ostentatious. Showy, brassy, flash, call it what you will; although you might ask why it’s at all necessary for the filthy nouveau riche to go overboard and paint the inside of their houses with gaudy colors and make it look like they have no taste at all. They may have the money, but they don’t necessarily have the taste to go with it. Money buys just more money; it doesn’t buy you a savvy bit of know-how in the décor stakes. Although, you should be able to pay for someone that does have the knowledge to get you to that.

Whatever they do with their money, the Chinese nouveau riche are working their way up the Forbes rich list.

• China saw a 25% increase in the 2014 Forbes list with 1**52 billionaires**. 
• There were only 122 in 2013. Poor things!
• According to Forbes, the list had nearly zero people from China just two decades ago. Although, it’s debatable whether they were actually there or not. The party must have had a few even back then hidden away somewhere. 
• Admittedly, the Chinese economy might be slowing down, but it’s still doing a lot better than the rest of us, whether we like that or not. 
• Growth for 2013 stood at 7.7%.

It is interesting to note that statistics are always revealing of who actually does them. The Hurun Global Rich List states that there are 358 billionaires in China. Someone must be getting it wrong somewhere along the line. There are 457 ethnic Chinese that are resident outside of the PRC. But, it's noteworthy that Hurun is sponsored by the Chinese luxury property sector and in particular Star River Property. The data seems just about as reliable as anything that gets published by the Chinese state, these days.

According to Forbes, the richest person in China is now Wang Jianlin, coming in only at 64th place in the ranking, with a net worth standing at $15.1 billion. That is worth a lot more in Purchasing Power Parity there in the People’s Republic of China than the rest of us combined ever get hold of in the west.

• Jianlin owns 85 shopping plazas across the country and 51 five-star hotels as well as dozens of department stores.

The second richest person in China is the $13.4 billion Ma Huatent, CEO of Tencent Holdings. The youngest billionaire that has just entered the rankings is 24-year-old Perenna Kei from Hong Kong.

But, before the USA starts worrying that the Chinese are overtaking them, it’s not going to happen just yet. There are 492 of them in the US today and they can either thank their lucky stars, or the hordes of workers that drudge into the offices and the factories every day or the fact that the financial market has been jacked up so much with bubble-inducing drugs that they have added more money to their coffers.

Europe came in a close second (as usual?) with 468 billionaires in 2014.

The world’s richest in ascending order from tenth to first place are:

• Jim Walton $34.7B USA
• Christie Walton $36.7B USA
• Sheldon Adelson $38B USA
• David Koch $40B USA
• Charles Koch $40B USA
• Larry Ellison $48B USA
• Warren Buffet $58.2B USA
• Amancio Ortega $64B Spain
• Carlos Slim Helu $72B Mexico
Bill Gates $76B USA

Just a thought? I wonder how many of them actually pay tax? Or if they manage to get around all of that by some wicked web that has been woven. One thing tells me that if they are officially worth that much, then one they might not have that in the bank at their disposal. Secondly, they might well have double that amount. People never declare what they have or own down to the last dime, do they? The 11th person on that rich list is Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of L’Oreal. Back in 2011 she got around paying more than 4% in tax on her wealth. She now has $34.5 billion somewhere (officially), although she has got herself embroiled in a scandal with ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy about illegally financing his election campaign and in return (so the rumor goes) getting out of paying any tax altogether.

Is that the way the Chinese billionaires will be going? If they really want to be like the West, they’ll have to go down that road, if they haven’t done so already.

Originally posted: Chinese: Filthy Rich