BEIJING (AFP) — China had 345,000 millionaires by the end of last year, the second-most in Asia after Japan, according to a new study by US investment bank Merrill Lynch.
The number of Chinese US dollar millionaires was up 7.8 percent from the year before, helped by a stock market that saw its value soar 130 percent over the 12 months, according to the study, co-authored with consultancy Capgemini.
"The Chinese economy turned in another year of strong performance in 2006, driven by surging exports and rising domestic consumption," Merrill Lynch executive Francis Liu said in a statement released Wednesday.
"Returns from the stock market also gave a lift to the number of China (millionaires) and their holdings."
China also has 4,935 extremely rich people, or "Ultra-HNWIs" (Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals), defined as those with financial assets of more than 30 million dollars, the statement said.
"China's rapid economic growth is reflected in a high concentration of Ultra-HNWIs," said Dirk Chanmueller, a Capgemini executive. "The country is home to more than 28 percent of the Ultra-HNWIs in Asia Pacific."
The survey was released a week after two annual "China Rich" lists emerged, showing an explosion in the number of very wealthy people.
China now has 106 billionaires, up from 15 a year ago, according to one of the two lists, published by Shanghai-based Hurun Magazine.
The latest data was published just as the elite of China's Communist Party were gathered in Beijing for their five-yearly Congress, with the growing wealth divide among the top agenda items.
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