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Photo montage by Adam Connors
RANKINGS 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50 | next >>

31 Dhirubhai Ambani
BORN Dec. 28, 1932, in Chorwad, Gujarat, India
EDUCATION High school graduate
FAMILY Married; two sons, Mukesh and Anil, who also run Reliance
POWER POINTS If power is measured in face time with the leader of the free world, then Ambani has it in spades. Bill Clinton spent 45 minutes with the "Polyester Prince" on his recent visit to India. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee got just 10. As boss of India's largest private enterprise, Ambani told Clinton how conflict with Pakistan might impact business. He gives the PM his views, too. It is often said that Ambani -- and Reliance -- have benefited from the benevolence of the government. These days it seems more like the other way around.

32 Li Peng
BORN Oct. 20, 1928, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China
EDUCATION Zhangjiakou School of Industry; Moscow Mechanical Institute
FAMILY Married; three children
HOBBIES Basketball, calligraphy, driving
POWER POINTS Secure in his job as NPC chief, where he is pursuing a brisk legislative pace, Li owes his longevity at the top to strong support from elder and more conservative cadres, as well as the backing of the State Council, which he headed for two terms. Even a potentially damaging corruption scandal involving a key crony has been quietly brushed under the carpet. Much like the controversy surrounding his central role in the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, it seems Li isn't going away in a hurry.

Chan Looi Tat for Asiaweek

33 Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
BORN Nov. 26, 1939, in Penang state,Malaysia
EDUCATION BA in Islamic Studies, University of Malaya
FAMILY Married to Endon Mahmood; one son and one daughter
HOBBIES Reading, playing golf
POWER POINTS A stop-gap deputy premier after his predecessor Anwar Ibrahim was ousted in 1998, Abdullah has since emerged as Mahathir's most likely successor. Shedding his "Mr. Nice" image, the DPM has taken a tough line with opposition publications and demonstrators. Abdullah has strong personal support within the dominant UMNO party, garnering an unassailable number of nominations for the deputy leader's post. But his failure to get allies installed as vice presidents means he is no shoo-in for PM. Election is never a sure thing for Malaysia's leaders-in-waiting.

34 Thaksin Shinawatra
BORN July 26, 1949, in Chiang Mai, Thailand
EDUCATION Police Academy, Thailand
FAMILY Married, one son, two daughters
POWER POINTS Critics say he's old wine in a new bottle, a tried-and-failed politician with a new party and image, but no new ideas. But Thaksin is winning converts with U.S.-style campaign glitz and an 11-point action plan to tackle Thailand's woes. Running second to PM Chuan in the polls, the telecoms tycoon hopes he can make the next election a tough one to call.

35 Lee Kun Hee
BORN Jan. 9, 1942, in Taegu, South Korea
EDUCATION Waseda University, Tokyo; George Washington University, U.S.
FAMILY Married; one son and three daughters
POWER POINTS The Crisis gave Lee the opportunity to reform and restructure Samsung, offloading redundant units and wiping out debts. The recovery is giving him the chance to reorient. Lee is installing new men for the New Economy, promoting executives in their 40s and early 50s to senior management positions. Lee sees the future and it is digital. Samsung Electronics is shedding its non-digital product lines, while Samsung Corp. is investing $1 billion in the Internet over the next few years. It's a future investors like the look of. The market value of Samsung's companies has doubled since July 1999.

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