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China star rankings hint at struggles of showbiz
Updated: 2004-02-12 11:13

China's number one celebrity makes most of his millions on America's basketball courts.

Basketball giant Yao Ming isn't China's only top star to win a disproportionate amount of fame and riches abroad, new celebrity power rankings released by the Chinese edition of Forbes suggest.

Hollywood martial arts dynamo Jet Li, Hong Kong pop diva Wang Fei and male crooner Leon Lai, whose image graces billboard ads all over in the territory, also cracked the top ten on the 100-person list, unveiled at a ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday.

Film beauty Gong Li made two films in France last year.

"The immaturity of China's entertainment and sports industries has not prevented the country of 1.3 billion population from having its own celebrity stars," Forbes said in a news release.

Income in 2003 was the biggest single factor is compiling list of 100 personalities, which attempts to track the transfer of fame into fortune, while media coverage was also counted.

Yao had the most press coverage and the second highest annual income and number of Web hits.

Most of his pre-tax income of 120 million yuan (US$14.50 million) is thought to come from his salary with the Houston Rockets and endorsements with Nike, Apple Computer and Visa.

It is not surprising that a nation's international stars lead such rankings. But in China, the show business and sport markets have suffered particularly from mismanagement and bureaucratic obstacles, despite the emergence of a mainland paparrazzi and captive fan followings.

Cash-poor state television stations, entertainment companies and sporting goods makers, low box office and concert receipts and pirating of sport apparel, DVDs and record albums all handicap the growth of the industries.

Forbes, which began to publish in China last year, confined its list to stars born on the mainland "in view of the fact that the mainland's show business still lags behind Taiwan and Hong Kong", it said.

But Chinese stars are doing better than before on the homefront. Actress Zhang Ziyi, the face of Coca-Cola and Maybelline in China, came in second. Mainland television nymphet Zhao Wei was third.

Following are the top 10 of 100 Chinese celebrities:

1 Yao Ming basketball player 120
2 Zhang Ziyi film actress 26
3 Zhao Wei TV/film actress/singer 19
4 Wang Fei singer/actress 28
5 Gong Li film actress 28
6 Zhang Yimou film director 18
7 Zhou Xun actress/singer 12
8 Leon Lai singer/actor 66
9 Sun Nan singer


10 Jet Li actor 140

(US$1=8.277 Yuan)

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