China Still Has More Billionaires Than U.S., Rich List Shows

Chinese man

An annual Chinese rich list has shown that the Asian powerhouse has more billionaires than the United States, coming as a confirmation to another list released earlier in the year.

The Hurun Report’s rich list for 2016 shows China has more dollar billionaires than America and the margin is widening further. The Asian country now has 594 billionaires, compared to 535 in the U.S.

The annual rich list, which is put together by Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute, has been compared to the Forbes’ rich list in the U.S. It is believed to provide highly accurate assessments of wealth in the world’s most populous country.

Sitting at the top of the list this time is property tycoon Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda, a company which has made headlines this year for its high-profile activities in the American movie market. The 62-year-old, whose company has acquired Legendary Pictures, boasts a net worth of $32.1 billion.

Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma saw a 41 percent boost in his personal wealth to $30.6 billion for second spot. Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Pony Ma came in third with a fortune of $24.6 billion.

The Hurun rich list actually shows the total number of Chinese billionaires currently stands at 754, with 594 coming from mainland China. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau combine for 94 billionaires, while other parts of the globe, especially Southeast Asia, account for 66.

“Despite a 20 percent drop in the domestic stock markets and a slowdown in the economy, the number of richest people in the country has jumped 179 to 2,056, double that of three years ago and up 10-fold from 10 years ago,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun’s chief researcher and chairman.

The latest list confirms another global list released earlier in the year by the publisher showing the number of billionaires in China had exceeded that of those in America for the first time.

Although China now claims more billionaires, it does not have any representative among the top 20 richest people in the world.

Majority of the billionaires on the new list live in Beijing. The Chinese capital city is followed by Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hangzhou in that order.

The highest climber on the latest rich list is Yao Zhenhua of the real estate and investment company Baoneng Group. The 46-year-old, who made a big splash with his takeover of real estate firm Vanke Co. Ltd this year, jumped a whopping 200 places to fourth. His wealth had surged to $17.2 billion, representing an increase of 820 percent.

Hoogewerf said Yao’s astronomical rise was indicative of the “new wave of wealth creation in China.” He said the capital markets were increasingly being used for financial investments, unlike in the past.

Search engine Baidu’s Robin Li and Melissa Ma sit eighth with a fortune of $14.7 billion. Online games magnate Ding Lei of Neteasy Inc, Xu Jiayin of Evergrande Group, and He Xiangjian of Midea Group Co. joined Yao as new entrants among the top 10 richest Chinese. However, smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun slipped out of the top 10 to 14th spot amid increasing competition in the smartphone market.