China's richest man 'snubs Queen Elizabeth, David Cameron'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 May, 2013, 9:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

China's richest man, Zong Qinghou, may be known for his frugality, but he bailed on two free dinners in February, snubbing invitations from Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron.

"The queen invited [me] for February 6; the prime minister invited [me] for the 12th. Lunar New Year was on the 9th," the founder of China's third-largest beverage maker Wahaha told China Entrepreneur Magazine in an interview published on Sunday.

"Should I have flown for more then 10 hours, eat and travel back, then fly once again, eat and fly back?" he asked. "That doesn't make any sense."

Worth an estimated US$12.6 billion according to the Hurun list of the nation's richest, Zong, 76, boasts about spending less than US$20 per day.

The invitation from Buckingham Palace could not be confirmed through the official Court Circular, which lists royal engagements. The queen and the prince of Edinburgh did not have any public engagements on February 6, and the prince of Wales met only a eurosceptic House of Lords cross-bencher.

On February 12, Downing Street hosted an annual Chinese New Year Reception, at which David Cameron wished "xin nian kuai le" to the Chinese community in Britain.

Zong, 10 years the queen's junior, has been a member of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, since 2003. Once a salt harvester in Zhejiang, he invested in a popsicle and soft drinks factory in 1987 that has since turned into the beverage-giant Wahaha.