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Zhong Shanshan, the chair 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 for “common prosperity” dented valuations of the country’s top companies and ate at its private wealth.

The wealth of the country’s wealthiest tycoons shrank 39 per cent to $907.1bn in 2022 from $1.48tn the year before, according to the Forbes rich list, the biggest decline since the publication started compiling the list more than 20 years ago.

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

Forbes blamed the decline on Beijing’s tech crackdown, its economically throttling zero-Covid policies, slow economic growth and concerns over the outcome of the 20th Communist party congress in October.

The slide in the value of the renminbi, further dented fortunes.

Zhong Shanshan, the chair of Nongfu Spring, the bottled water company, remained in the top spot on the list with wealth of $62.3bn, down just 5 per cent from the year before.

Robin Zeng, chair of CATL, the world’s largest electric vehicle battery maker, saw his wealth decline by 43 per cent to $28.9bn, while Pony Ma, chief executive of internet giant Tencent, the share price of which has plumbed four-year lows this year, saw his wealth fall by more than half.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma also saw his personal fortune almost halved after his company dropped roughly 60 per cent in value over the past year.

Shein-founder Chris Xu was a notable newcomer, with a fortune estimated at $10bn, while Evergrand chair Hui Ka Yan, once one of the country’s richest individuals, dropped out of the country’s 100 wealthiest.

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