11 of the 20 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese, with their average fortune of 2.6 billion dollars surpassing US talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s 2.3 billion and author JK Rowling’s 1 billion, the Shanghai-based Hurun Report reveals. And the top 3 richest on the list are all Chinese. Rowling, author of the immensely popular Harry Potter books, actually came bottom on the list.

Oprah Winfrey and J.K.Rowling

Paper-recycling queen Zhang Yin, head of Nine Dragons Paper Holdings, is the wealthiest with a fortune of US$5.6 billion, followed by Wu Yajun of Longfor Property with $4.1 billion and Chen Lihua of Hong Kong’s Fuhua International with $4 billion.

The list includes three billionaires from the United States, three from Britain and one each from Italy, Russia and Spain.

The richest non-Chinese person on the list is Rosalia Mera of Spanish clothing store Zara who is fourth overall with 3.5 billion dollars. U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey came ninth.

The top 10 richest self-made women on the Hurun list is  shown below’

Hurun List of the 10 Richest Self-Made Women 2010

The richest self-made woman in the world.....Zhang Yin aka Yan Cheung (age 53) of China's Nine Dragons Paper Holdings

No. 2 Wu Yajun (age 46) of China's Longfor Property

No.3 Chen Lihua aka Chan Laiwa (age 69) of Hong Kong's Fuhua International

No. 4 Rosalia Mera (age 66) of Spanish clothing store Zara

No. 5 Xiuli Hawken (age 47) of Renhe Commercial Holdings

No. 6 Elena Baturina (age 47) of Russia

No. 7 Zhu Linyao aka Chu Lam Yiu (age 40) of China's Huabao International

No.8 Doris Fisher (age 78) of USA's Gap

No. 9 Oprah Winfrey (age 56)

No. 10 Zhang Xin (age 45) of Soho China

Listed below are the 11th to the 20th richest self-made women:

11. Guiliana Benetton, age 72, of Italy’s Benetton ($2.0 billion)

12. Chen Ningning, age 38, of China’s Pioneer Metals Holdings ($1.7 billion)

13. He Qiaonu, age 44, of China’s Orient Landscape ($1.5 billion)

14. Huang Xi of China’s Zhongsheng Group ($1.4 billion)

15. Ruth Parasol, age 43, of UK Internet gambling ($1.32 billion)

16. Meg Whitman, age 54, former CEO of eBay ($1.3 billion)

17. Mary Perkins, age 66, of UK’s Specsavers ($1.29 billion)

18. Dai Weili, age 48, of China’s Marvell ($1.2 billion)

17. Zhou Yaxian, age 50, of China’s Shenguan Holdings ($1.1 billion)

20. JK Rowling, age 44, UK author of Harry Potter books ($1.0 billion)

A China expert attributed the country’s dominance to the fact that Chinese women are spurred in their ambitions by Mao Zedong’s dictum, “Women hold up half the sky.” In a survey, 76 percent of Chinese women aspired to top jobs, compared to only 52 percent of their U.S. counterparts. “Chinese women are also among the most ambitious on earth,” the Financial Times wrote.

“There is no other country that comes even close to touching the number of self-made women in China. They are now head and shoulders above any other country,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun rich list.

Hoogewerf partly attributed the Chinese women’s business success to the government’s one-child policy and free childcare provided by many grandparents, which has enabled them to spend time building their empires.

China’s long acceptance of women working outside the home has been another significant factor. The booming Chinese economy has also been a big factor, creating more opportunities, giving them access to a huge consumer population and also cheap labour.

Chinese female business owners recently made quite an impression on Kristina Bouweiri, head of $US15 million (estimated sales) Reston Limousine in the Washington DC, area, who recently returned from the Global Summit of Women in Beijing.

“These are the first women in history able to take advantage of the industrial revolution. My first impression is that it’s been easier for them in some ways. The opportunities have been greater. They seem to think a lot bigger,” says Bouweiri.

“They are kicking butt and making money.”

The London-based Financial Times attributed the figures to Chinese women being among the most ambitious on the planet.

The paper cited a study conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York, which found that 76 percent of women in China aspired to top jobs, compared to 52 percent in the United States.

Working mothers in China “are able to aim high, in part because they have more shoulders to lean on than their American and European peers when it comes to childcare”, the center noted.

While the achievements of Chinese women are impressive, they still lag behind their male counterparts. The Hurun Rich List on China’s wealthiest showed that only 11 percent of the richest people in China are women.