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.
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 bn, up 52% from last year.
Second is Jack Ma, of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, at $22.7 bn, followed by Zeng Qinghou, of the Wahaha soft drinks and mineral water empire, with $21.2 bn.
China’s economy grew by 7% in the quarter ending in July over a year earlier, down from last year’s 7.4% 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 Hoogwerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report.