Night shot of the Bund in Shanghai, China. Photo: iStock
Night shot of the Bund in Shanghai, China. Photo: iStock

After Beijing published a new list of top businessmen to honor their achievements, the focus is not on who is on the list, but who isn’t.

About 90% of the businessmen on this new “Top 100 outstanding private entrepreneurs at the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up” were the usual big names from rich lists compiled by Fortune, Forbes and Hurun. Naturally included are Jack Ma Yun of Alibaba Group and Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent Holdings and the rich landlords of Guangdong.

And yet, other tycoons are curiously missing from the list. One of them being chief executive Richard Liu Qiangdong, the flamboyant founder of the e-commerce giant who was allegedly accused of rape in Minnesota last month.

Other tycoons such as Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, Chen Feng, chairman of HNA Group, and Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun Group were also absent. All three have become infamous for overseas spending sprees involving vast sums spent on famous landmarks, luxury hotels and popular football clubs.

Also missing from the list were the Ping An Insurance chief executive Ma Mingzhe, Country Garden chairman Yeung Kwok-keung andNine Dragons Paper (Holdings) chairwoman Cheung Yan. All three are innovative leaders in their sectors and it is not clear why they are not included.

Compiled by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and the United Front Work Department, a Communist Party propaganda unit, the list was intended to “publicize the great achievements in the development of the private economy, [and] showcase the entrepreneurial style of the private entrepreneurs as part of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The list of candidates were ready in June but since then have undergone a strict screening process to assess their behaviour, social reputations and impact on Chinese society.

Some famous businessmen were removed because they no longer held Chinese nationality or were no longer the financial owner of the business they were associated with.

Some political watchers suggest the list was devised as a friendly gesture to private business owners amid recent criticism that the nation may have adopted a “Guo jin min tui” or “the state advances, the private sector retreats” strategy.