A decade ago, China had no billionaries. Now for the first time ever, it has more than the US. A new ranking has revealed that China's rapid economic climb has produced a staggering number of high-net-worth individuals.
The number of billionaires in the world's second-largest economy, China, has overtaken the number of ultra-rich in the world's largest economy, the United States, an annual wealth survey showed Thursday.
China counted 242 more billionaires than one year ago, putting the number of high-net-worth individuals in the Communist-ruled country at 596, according to the Shanghai-based luxury magazine publisher Hurun Report.
There are only 537 Americans with a net worth above $1 billion (874.4 million euros).
"Despite the slowdown in the economy, China's richest have defied gravity, recording their best year ever," said the magazine's chairman, Rupert Hoogewerf.
Slowdown? What slowdown?
The rise came despite anxiety over China's economic slowdown. It was largely attributable to the stock market's favorable performance (it's up 41 percent compared to a year ago) and a wave of new tech entrepreneurs on the scene.
But the top post, once held by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, has since been overtaken by the real estate and entertainment magnate Wang Jianlin, who founded the Wanda conglomerate.
Wang has seen his net worth increase by more than 50 percent to $34.4 billion, the magazine said, compared to Ma's 22.7 billion.
There was also Zhou Qunfei, a new arrival to the list worth $7.8 billion, who founded Lens Technology, a maker of touchscreens. Frank Wang Tao, who owns the world's largest drone company, is there, too, with his $3.4 billion fortune.
If the list had included billionaires from Hong Kong and Macau, the total number would have come to 670.
cjc/gb (dpa, AFP)