China a paradise for a million millionaires

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 March, 1993, 12:00am

CHINA has more than a million millionaires - and most of them are big spenders.

The just-published issue of the official China Digest reported this was a ''most conservative estimate'' and is in sharp contrast to an official survey in mid-1992 which put the number of millionaires at just over 500.

The monthly journal disclosed that nouveau riche Chinese had swamped newly-opened golf clubs in Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai and Hainan with applications for membership, which cost at least US$30,000 (HK$232,000).

Italian boutiques in Beijing had difficulty keeping their garments on the shelves, even though they were worth 300 yuan (HK$400) to 400 yuan each, or more than the average monthly salary of urban workers.

''However, such prices would only put them in the middle ranks of the ever-increasing luxurious fashion stores in the capital'', China Digest said.

''In Shenzhen, we are not short of folks with assets of over 10 million yuan,'' the magazine quoted a local investor who struck it rich in the Shenzhen bourse as saying.

Apart from the budding ''new class'' of private entrepreneurs, the world of entertainment has spawned its fair share of multi-millionaires.

For example, singer Wei Wei owns a posh suburban villa. And actress Liu Xiaoqing, who has branched out into property, recently invested millions of US dollars in the Hongkong property market, according to the magazine.

China Digest attributed the phenomenon of plenty to the slogan raised by patriarch Mr Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s, that ''it is permissible for a part of the population to get rich ahead of the others''.

China analysts said, however, that a more recent dictum by Mr Deng might have contributed more to the coffers of the super-rich.

Soon after his tour of Guangdong in early 1992, the patriarch gave the green light for party and government units - as well as cadres - to set up businesses on the side.

Big spenders aside, many millionaires are reluctant to admit their wealth.