China has beaten the US for the first time in the number of dollar billionaires whose numbers have climbed to 596 over America’s 537, the most in the world, despite a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.
The Communist giant now has the world’s largest number of billionaires as their numbers rose sharply as a “staggering” 242 joined the list in the last year, Shanghai-based luxury magazine publisher Hurun Report said.
This enabled China to surpass the US as it looks to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy.
“Despite the slowdown in the economy, China’s richest have defied gravity, recording their best year ever,” Hurun Report Chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said in a statement in Shanghai from where it is published.
Observers say the trend also represents the privatisation of the Chinese economy, currently hovering around 7 per cent, as a result of more market-oriented reforms.
IMF forecast that the economy will decline to 6.8 per cent this year from last year’s 7.3 per cent and further to 6.3 per cent in 2016.
The ruling Communist Party promises more market reforms to revitalise the state-owned enterprise (SOE)-dominated export-oriented economy to the one that is led by domestic consumption.
The China billionaire list is dominated by entertainment mogul Wang Jianlin who founded the conglomerate Wanda unseating e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Jack Ma as the country’s richest person.
Wang’s fortune jump more than 50 per cent to USD 34.4 billion, helped by a surge in the stock price of a listed unit besides big boost in movie box office revenues in China.
Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group made waves in India recently with plans to invest USD 10 billion in real estate in Mumbai. He was one of the first private Chinese investors to bet on the Indian market.
He also had number of major overseas acquisitions which included US cinema chain AMC Entertainment for USD 2.6 billion besides, a stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid and Swiss sports marketing group Infront, while Ma stood second with his wealth of USD 22.7 billion.
China’s beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou of Wahaha retainedÂ third place with a little over USD 21 billion while Pony Ma, founder of internet giant Tencent which operates popular messaging app WeChat, took fourth place with just under USD 19 billion.
New kid on the billionaires’ block, Lei Jun, who became a big success with his smartphone firm Xiaomi with aspirations to challenge Apple, jumped five places to fifth by doubling his wealth to over USD 14 billion.