October 13, 2009

Million Dollar China

While many nations struggle with the current economic crisis and some, like for example Iceland are on the verge of going bankrupt, China has once again underlined its new position as economic superpower. The number of billionaires in the country rose this year from 101 to a staggering 130. Only the United States have more billionaires.

Surprisingly, the list is leaded by two entrepreneurs in green technology. On top of the billionaires list is the owner of
Build Your Dream, the successful electronic car manufacturer that is partially funded by super investor Warren Buffet. Wang Chuanfu has now over 5.1 billion U.S. dollars on his bank account. Number two is Zhang Yin, founder of the paper recycling company Nine Dragons.

The major catalyst for the enormous wealth growth is the domestic car industry. Despite the global financial meltdown, domestic demand in China is still rapidly rising. This has resulted in astonishing new financial figures. In the Capital of Beijing, there are now over 143.000 millionaires. That’s a medium sized city full of financial fortune. Peking beats the economic engine of China, Shanghai, which counts over 116.000 millionaires.

It is estimated that in 2013, China will have more millionaires than the current leaders, the United States. On the one hand, the explosive growth in China raises eyebrows with regard to several social and political issues. Will the distribution of China’s new health be distributed relatively evenly among its citizens and not result in enhanced domestic tensions? What is the role of corruption and the central party in this growth, and will the changing balance of power not be abused?

On the other hand however, this new distribution of wealth gives hope. First of all, because its shows that previously closed, relatively undeveloped countries can achieve wealth and prosperity by opening their borders and joining the global community.

Secondly, the fact that the two richest persons in China became wealthy because of their green, innovative firms indicates that emerging economies do not necessarily need to undergo a polluting, old fashioned industrial revolution. Instead, China is giving a clear and green example of how economic growth and green sustainable policy can go hand in hand. In this respect, the US can learn a lot from its inevitable successor.

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