Water tycoon Zhong Shanshan is China's richest

File photo

Bottled-water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become China's wealthiest person, according to an annual ranking released Wednesday.

Zhong, in his late 60s, has seen his fortune swell following the stock listings last year of his Nongfu Spring mineral water and separate pharma company Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which has tapped into massive demand for Covid-19 test kits.

He is worth $60.5 billion, according to the Hurun Rich List, up seven percent.

Zhong was ranked third last year.

Co-founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, last year's richest, dropped to fifth as his fortune shrank 36 percent to $39.6 billion.

Pony Ma, boss of gaming giant and WeChat owner Tencent, dropped two spots to fourth after his fortune shrank by 19 percent.

Second place was taken by TikTok founder Zhang Yiming.

The Hurun Research Institute, which compiles the list, said that for the first time the real estate sector had no names in the Top 10.

The overall number of individuals in China worth at least two billion yuan ($310 million) grew by 520 to a total of 2,918, Hurun said.

Growth in the electric vehicle market, in particular, fuelled the rising fortunes of several entrepreneurs, according to the list.