• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 7:57pm

Mainland has Asia's biggest wealth gap, says study

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 12:00am

China has the highest concentration of wealth among the fewest individuals in Asia, according to a study.

The Asian Banker, a Singapore-based publication, found a massive gap between the mainland's rich and poor.

'In terms of absolute numbers, China, due to its sheer population base, has by far the largest number of affluent citizens, with almost 2.4 million residents boasting liquid assets of at least US$100,000 [HK$780,000],' the study said.

'But as a representation of the proportion of total population, China still lags behind the other more developed Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.'

According to the study, 0.16 per cent of mainlanders control 65 per cent of China's US$1.6 trillion in liquid assets, which includes savings, stocks and bonds, gold, silver and insurance.

In Japan, 5.6 per cent of the population has assets of more than US$100,000, controlling 56 per cent of the liquid wealth.

In South Korea, 1.9 per cent controls 64 per cent of the country's financial assets. In Taiwan, 2.4 per cent control 74 per cent of the financial assets.

In Hong Kong, 2.8 per cent control 65 per cent of the financial assets. Singapore is slightly higher with 3.7 per cent controlling 69 per cent.

While the disparity between the rich and poor was huge on the mainland, there was hope of change with the expanding middle class, said Chew Li-may, a senior analyst with the Asian Banker.

'There are 65 million who earn US$5,000 or more a year,' said Ms Chew, 'And this segment is expanding and will likely double in five years.

'Foreign banks looking at the mainland shouldn't only look at the super-rich. If you look at absolute figures, it's these 65 million who are waiting to be educated in terms of investment opportunities. Most of them just have money in the bank in fixed deposits.'

But there is no denying China's super-rich are an attractive market for foreign bankers. About 241,000 have between US$750,000 and US$1.5 million and 54,000 have more than US$1.5 million in savings.

Many of the super-rich also keep the bulk of their money in low-interest bank accounts, though some do own sizeable equity portfolios.


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