The 26-year-old daughter of a former bricklayer has become the richest person in China and the wealthiest woman in Asia.

The fortune of Yang Huiyan, estimated at $16.2 billion by Forbes magazine, enables the property developer from China’s Guangdong province to leapfrog Zhang Yin, the wastepaper magnate, to the top of the rich list. Her wealth derives from the property empire that her father founded.

China’s economic boom has fueled a rise in stock and property prices. Ms Yang’s fortune was boosted by her father’s decision to list his Country Garden Holdings on the Hong Kong stock market in April this year.

Her net worth was more than seven times that of last year’s richest Chinese, Huang Guangyu, an electrical appliance retailer who runs Gome stores nationwide and in Hong Kong. Mr Huang dropped to tenth place on this year’s list, even though his net worth soared by more than 50 percent to $3.6 billion, reflecting the rapid growth of China’s economy.

This year 20 new names made it on to the list of China’s 40 richest people, Forbes said. Two more property tycoons follow hard on the heels of Ms Yang in second and third place.

Ms Yang has found herself in the public eye ever since her father, Yang Guoqiang, 52, transferred his shares into the name of the second of his three daughters in 2005.

The former cement mixer, who did not own a new shirt until he was 18, grew up tending cows and working on construction sites after his father impoverished the family by gambling.

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