Photo: Gus Lubin
LAST month we published a chart showing that a disproportionate number of China’s billionaires were born in the year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese zodiac. We did not attempt to argue why this is so. Hurun, a Shanghai-based luxury publishing and events group, has spotted a similar anomaly in almost all the years since 1999, when it first began publishing its annual list of China’s richest people.The chart was, of course, silly, as many of our readers pointed out. To John Wagner Givens of the University of Louisville, it was “thoughtlessly silly”. Fortunately, he has offered a thoughtfully sensible explanation for the rabbit anomaly on the Huffington Post website. Echoing a point made by a number of our commenters, he shows that in 1963, a rabbit year, birth rates surged in China as it recovered from the devastating famine that followed Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Thus, he argues, there is not a surprising number of rabbit billionaires, but a disproportionate number of rabbits among Chinese aged 40-60, the prime age group for billionaires in China.
It might be added that those born around 1960 are also in the prime age for taking over China’s most powerful political posts in a decade’s time. The two politicians most commonly tipped for positions at the very top after Xi Jinping steps down in 2022 (if all goes to plan) are Hu Chunhua, who is party chief of Inner Mongolia, and Sun Zhengcai, who heads the party in Jilin province. (See this description in the Financial Times of how they are being groomed.) Both, as it happens, were born in the year of the rabbit.
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