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China’s New List of Approved Business Leaders Omits Wanda’s Wang Jianlin

Wang Jianlin Wanda Group
REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Newscom

China’s ruling Communist Party has published a list of the country’s top 100 private-sector business leaders, with Dalian Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin’s name notably omitted.

The compilation, which amounts to a semi-official checklist of who is in Beijing’s good graces, was published Thursday. According to the South China Morning Post, the executives are noted for their “great achievements in the development of the private economy” in the 40 years since the country chose to open up economically. They are not ranked by achievement or wealth.

The list includes Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba; Pony Ma, head of Tencent; and Robin Li, head of Baidu. Their three companies have collectively been nicknamed “BAT” and over the last five years have developed vast tech ecosystems that dominate everyday life in China.

Wang, who until last year was China’s richest businessman, was snubbed. Wanda fan afoul of the government in 2016 with the aggressive overseas expansion program that made it the world’s largest cinema owner and saw the controversial acquisition of Legendary Entertainment. Wanda has been forced to downsize and restructure, selling off many of its theme parks and its movie studio, though it remains as operator.

Also absent from the list are Guo Guangchang, who heads Fosun Group, the conglomerate that owns Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, and Richard Liu, chairman of home shopping empire JD.com, who has been accused of, but not charged with, rape in the U.S.

Some significant newcomers made the list. They include Lei Jun, the ambitious founder of Xiaomi, a dominant cellphone maker, which sees itself as a budding entertainment player; and Zhang Yiming, the founder of news and video app Bytedance.