China’s ultra-wealthy population has been leading the way for the last few years, but the latest Hurun Global Rich List shows that the number of Chinese billionaires is growing, pulling the country even further ahead of the United States.
The sixth annual report, which took a snapshot of the world’s wealth on January 15 of this year, lists Beijing as the billionaire capital of the globe for the second year in a row at 94, even though it’s down six billionaires from the year before. Shenzhen gained 16 more billionaires to put it at 62, overtaking London and Moscow for fourth place. Shanghai slipped to sixth place, yet it’s still ahead of Mumbai and Paris. Overall, China welcomed 41 new billionaires this year, with the United States seeing just 17 new entrants on the list.
Most of the ultra-wealthy Chinese on Hurun’s list are self-made billionaires, and for women, this factor is especially significant. Women billionaires make up 15 percent of the global list, and of the 88 who are self made, almost two-thirds are Chinese. Leading the way is Chen Lihua, the “Beijing real estate queen,” worth US$7.2 billion thanks to the success of her Hong Kong based company Fu Wah International Group. However, a recent report by Forbes lists just 56 self-made female billionaires, putting the head of a smartphone screen maker, Zhou Qunfei, at number one at US$7.4 billion.
A last-minute change in the list this year came thanks to Wang Wei, the chair of China’s leading delivery company, SF Express. He jumped 305 places on the global rich list to number 25. Late last month, his net worth shot up US$2.4 billion in one day, after a surge in stocks caused his wealth to climb, helping logistics become the top performing sector on the rich list.
Wang Jianlin, the head of Dalian Wanda Group, and Alibaba’s Jack Ma have retained the top two spots on China’s portion of the billionaires list. Hurun noted that Ma and Wang Jianlin’s son, Wang Sicong, lead the way in the social media followings of China’s billionaires. It’s Wang Sicong that often gets attention for his posts on social media in China, gaining significant international media coverage this past year when he posted photos online of his dog with eight iPhone 7’s.
Other notable figures on the China portion of the list include Yao Zhenhua, who took over real estate developer Vanke last year and saw his wealth increase almost eight-fold to a net worth of $15 billion. It’s a drop from his $US17.2 billion since the Hurun China Rich List was released in 2016. Tencent’s Pony Ma made a 40 percent leap in wealth from 2015 to 2016, but the latest report saw him increase just 16 percent compared to last year’s Global Rich List, and he was unseated by Wang Wei. The head of the internet company that developed WeChat, Ma was listed at number 38, just ahead of Maria Franca Fissolo of Ferrero Rocher.