Report Claims China Overtakes The US With Most Billionaires

In a week that saw China’s middle class outstrip that of the USA, according to the latest Hurun Report, Hurun Rich List 2015, China has also passed the United States in the number of billionaires.

In spite of a cooling economy, the number of Chinese billionaires rose by 242 this year to 596, that surpassed the 537 the company found in the United States.

Propelled by the rise of fortunes in technology and manufacturing, the report reflected the success of online retailing, entertainment and other service businesses, while traditional industries such as steel and natural resources gradually decline.

Top spot on this year’s list is Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping malls and cinemas, at $34.4 billion, up 52 percent from last year. Wang has also been adding sports interests to this portfolio recognising the potential growth of business in sport. He owns a large share of Spanish club Atletico de Madrid.

Second on the list is Jack Ma of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group with some $22.7 billion, followed by Zeng Qinghou of the Wahaha soft drinks and mineral water empire with $21.2 billion.

Ma Huateng of Tencent Ltd., operator of the popular WeChat social media service, is in fourth place and Jun Lei of smartphone maker Xiaomi is No. 5.

New additions to the growing ranks include Frank Wang, founder of DJI, the world’s biggest maker of civilian drone aircraft, with a net worth of $3.7 billion, and Cheng Wei of taxi-hailing app Didi-Kuaidi, with $1 billion.

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

Chinese leaders are trying to carefully calibrate the world’s second-largest economy to more self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption and service businesses to reduce reliance on trade, investment and dated 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,” Rupert Hoogwerf, chairman and chief researcher of The Hurun Report, said in a statement.

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