BEIJING -- The basketball star Yao Ming topped the Forbes list of Chinese celebrities for the fifth time, staying top of this year's list which was unveiled Tuesday.
Houston Rockets' Yao Ming stands during the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Louisiana Feb. 17, 2008. [Agencies]
Yao, earning 387.8 million yuan (US$54,6 million), leads the list both in earnings and influence.
In Olympic-mad China, the biggest winners must be the athletes, said Yang Linran, one of the Forbes list producers.
The average position of sports stars ranks six places higher compared to last year, which shows the potential of the Chinese sports industry, Yang said.
Liu Xiang, the 110-meter hurdles world record holder, and Kongfu film star Li Lianjie are second and third on the social influence, and third and second in the earnings.
The basketball star Yi Jianlian climbs from the 53rd to the fourth.
The film director Zhang Yimou drops from last year's third place to 23rd, while film star Zhang Ziyi drops one from fourth to the fifth.
Since its inception in 2004 The Forbes' Chinese celebrity List has ranked China's actors, actress, singers and athletes according to their press coverage, web hits and commercial value in the previous year.