Forbes, the U.S. magazine most famous for its annual rich list, announced recently that this year they would be conducting investigations themselves, and making the list of China’s top rich by putting Russell Flannery, chief deputy of Forbes in Shanghai, in charge of the work. No longer will the investigation be compiled by Rupert Hoogewerf who has been working on the Chinese rich list for four years.
Founder of the rich list in China
Rupert Hoogewerf whose Chinese name is Hu Run is well-known in China for tracking down the country's super-wealthy over the last four years. Despite public doubts and questions of the accuracy and authority of the wealth ranking year after year, his list of the top 100 richest people has exerted increasing influence in China. Just when Rupert and his team were making further progress for the list, Forbes announced they had withdrawn his right to compile the list. It is understood that he received no compensation settlement from Forbes.
Why was Hoogewerf dismissed by Forbes?
Some people were surprised when they heard the decision made by Forbes. Even Chen Bing, his assistant, had no idea of the reason why he should be fired. Forbes explained that they chose their own deputy to China as they want to improve the news report on the Chinese market and expand the reader population. Russell Flannery underlined that compiling the rich list using Forbes’ staff would ensure the standard of the ranking list consistent with other Forbes’ lists.
Forbes also said that they wanted the list to be more accurate and authorized which it was currently lacking. They thought the Hoogewerf list was incomprehensive and wrong in its calculations.
Is that the real reason behind their decision?
It would seem that Forbes has a commercial goal to occupy the rising wealth market in China. Russell Flannery said frankly, “Yao Ming, the new star in NBA, has already been on everyone’s lips in America. It means we are living in a new age where more and more international opportunities and wealth are being taken by the Chinese people now. The list of the top richest Chinese people shows Forbes’ confidence in the Chinese economy.”
Is there any chance that once redundant Hoogewerf may work with Forbes again in the future? The answer from Forbes is no. However, Chen Bing pointed out that the termination of that cooperation would not impair Hoogewerf’s prestige already established in China.
People hold various views on whether Rupert Hoogewerf will be able to attract as much attention in China as before without Forbes. However it is clear that he will keep pursuing the rich cause now under the name of Rupert Hoogewerf.
(china.org.cn by Li Xiao March 18, 2003)