Woman tops list of China's richest

Updated: 2006-10-11 15:42

A woman has topped a list of China's richest people for the first time, elbowing past two-time leader Huang Guangyu of GOME Electrical Appliances and a coterie of CEOs at old-economy government enterprises.

Newly minted billionaire Cheung Yan -- the 49 year-old founder and chairwoman of top Chinese paper packager Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd. -- saw her fortune balloon nine-fold to US$3.4 billion boosted by her firm's March initial public offering.

Ms. Cheung Yan, founder and chairwoman of top Chinese paper packager Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd. [File photo]

The entrepreneur, who controlled 72 percent of Nine Dragons as of August 31, has lapped up a 165 percent rally in the company's stock, according to an annual survey compiled by Rupert Hoogewerf, who pioneered a list for Forbes.

Cheung's stellar ascent is rare in a country whose largest corporations are state-owned or run by well-connected male executives.

Decades after Mao Zedong famously remarked that women "hold up half the sky," academics continue to point out the inadequacy of women's rights.

"China's women are becoming more visible in business," said Hoogewerf, who has published the list since 1999.

"Traditionally women have always been on the inside and men have been on the outside. It hasn't been until the economic reforms that women have actually started to make inroads into the public arena."

Ms Cheung yan [hurun.net]

Cheung, born in Northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province and now a Los Angeles native, began building her fortune in 1985, when she set up a waste-paper trading business in Hong Kong.

She later became the top exporter of scrap paper by volume in the United States, processing the paper in China to make containerboard.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industry Updates)