China now has more billionaires than the US

People walk past a Ferrari and helicopters at a conference in Shanghai. Picture: Getty

People walk past a Ferrari and helicopters at a conference in Shanghai. Picture: Getty

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CHINA has passed the United States in the number of billionaires, driven by the rise of fortunes in technology and manufacturing, according to a new survey.

Despite a cooling economy, the number of Chinese billionaires rose by 242 this year to 596, according to the Hurun Report, which follows China’s wealthy.

China’s richest have defied gravity, recording their best year ever”

RUPERT HOOGEWERF

It said that surpassed the 537 the company found in the United States.

The report reflected the success of online retailing, entertainment and other service businesses, while traditional industries such as steel and natural resources have declined.

Number one on this year’s list is Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping centres and cinemas, at 34.4 billion US dollars (£22.2 billion), up 52 per cent from last year. Second is Jack Ma, of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, at 22.7 billion US dollars (£14.7 billion), followed by Zeng Qinghou, of the Wahaha soft drinks and mineral water empire, with 21.2 billion US dollars (£13.7 billion).

China’s economy grew by 7 per cent in the quarter ending in July over a year earlier, down from last year’s 7.4 per cent annual expansion and the lowest level since the 2008 global crisis.

Communist leaders are trying to steer the economy to more self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption and service businesses to reduce reliance on trade, investment and heavy industry.

“Despite the slowdown in the economy, China’s richest have defied gravity, recording their best year ever, and creating more wealth than any country has ever done before in a year,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report.

Mr Hoogewerf, who is also chief researcher at Hurun, said earlier this year that many of China’s billionaires “fly below the radar” in an effort to conceal wealth from the authorities.

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