BEIJING - If you were to bet on who is the wealthiest self-made woman in the world, you might be tempted to back the talk show queen Oprah Winfrey or Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, but the name at the top of the list in 2010 is Zhang Yin, the head of a Chinese recycled paper company.
China has the most self-made female entrepreneurs in the world and 11 of the top 20 wealthiest self-made women in the world are Chinese, according to the Hurun List of Self-Made Women Billionaires released on Tuesday in Beijing.
Zhang, 53, founder and chairwoman of the company Nine Dragons Paper, has topped the list as the wealthiest self-made woman in the world with an estimated personal fortune of $5.6 billion.
Wu Yajun, 46, of Longfor Property, comes in second with $4.1 billion and Chen Lihua, 69, of Fu Wah International, ranks third with $4 billion.
The US talk show host Oprah Winfrey ranked ninth on the list with $2.3 billion in assets and the British author J.K. Rowling placed 20th with a fortune of $1 billion.
"China is clearly the leader for women in business," said Rupert Hoogewerf, the British founder and complier of the Hurun Rich List.
A growing number of Chinese women are climbing the corporate ladder. According to the magazine China Entrepreneur, there are currently more than 29 million female entrepreneurs in China, who account for over 20 percent of the total number of entrepreneurs in the country.
It also said that 1,107 A-share listed companies, which represent 67 percent of such companies in the country, employ 1,980 female board members or senior executives.
The London-based Financial Times attributed the figures to Chinese women being among the most ambitious on the planet.
The paper cited a study conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York, which found that 76 percent of women in China aspired to top jobs, compared to 52 percent in the United States.
Working mothers in China "are able to aim high, in part because they have more shoulders to lean on than their American and European peers when it comes to childcare", the center noted.
Chinese women are often provided cheap childcare by grandparents - four for every only child, the Financial Times noted.
While the achievements of Chinese women are impressive, they still lag behind their male counterparts.
The Hurun Rich List on China's wealthiest showed that only 11 percent of the richest people in China are women.
The complete Hurun Rich List ranks 1,363 individuals in China with personal wealth of at least 1 billion yuan ($150 million), an increase of 363 over last year's wealthiest.
Chinese beverage king Zong Qinghou, 65, chairman of the Wahaha Group, topped this year's list with a personal fortune of $12 billion.
No 1 on last year's list, Wang Chuanfu, 44, founder and chairman of Chinese battery and car manufacturer BYD, has seen his wealth decrease 10 percent, placing him 12th on the list with $4.6 billion in wealth.
In second place on this year's list is 36-year-old Li Li, founder and chairman of Hepalink Pharmaceutical, with a personal fortune of $6 billion.
Along with doubling his wealth, Baidu president Li Yanhong surged up the list from 21st place last year to fifth with a fortune of $5.3 billion.
Hoogewerf said this year's list reflects a trend in the Chinese economy, where medicine and IT, along with the retail and clothing industries, are among those that are the fastest growing in terms of creating wealth.