Forbes billionaires list: Beijing ends New York’s seven-year run as home to most number of rich people, as surging stocks boost tech, manufacturing moguls

Eric Ng
·4-min read

Beijing was home to more dollar billionaires than any other city on earth, according to the latest Forbes’ annual rich list released on Wednesday, surpassing New York in the process.

The Chinese capital added 33 billionaires and now hosts 100, narrowly beating out New York, which added seven billionaires last year and currently hosts 99, according to the 2021 Forbes World’s Billionaires List.

The “Big Apple” had lost its No. 1 ranking for the first time in seven years, according to Forbes. This is Beijing’s first top ranking. “Beijing added 33 new billionaires as China bounced back quickly from its [Covid-19] pandemic woes, skyrocketing from No. 4 to No. 1 on our annual list,” the American business magazine said on Wednesday.

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A buoyant stock market that has especially benefited technology industries, as well as China’s more resilient economy and its quick containment of the pandemic, boosted the fortunes of these billionaires.

The combined net worth of New York’s billionaires, however, remained US$80 billion greater than that of their counterparts in Beijing. Beijing’s richest resident was Zhang Yiming, the founder of social media sensation TikTok and chief executive (CEO) of parent firm ByteDance, who saw his net worth double to US$35.6 billion. In contrast, Michael Bloomberg, New York’s richest resident, had a fortune worth US$59 billion.

The surging stock market also helped China, which added more billionaires to the Forbes list than any other country globally. The country, including Hong Kong and Macau, saw 210 newcomers making it to the rich list. With 698 billionaires, it is closing in fast on the United States, which still leads with 724 billionaires. In 2020, China had 456 billionaires, compared to the US’s 614.

Hong Kong, which had the third-highest number of billionaires in 2020, had 80 billionaires last year. It added nine billionaires to the Forbes list last year, despite the pandemic hitting its service-oriented economy hard. Li Ka-shing, who retired in 2018 from CK Hutchison, the conglomerate he founded, saw his fortune grow by US$12 billion to US$33.7 billion last year. He remained the city’s wealthiest resident.

“A red-hot stock market is behind the bulk of the new billion-dollar fortunes, as indices of the Shanghai stock exchanges and Shenzhen Stock Exchange returned a respective 28 per cent and 43 per cent in the past year, driving up the net worth of 136 Chinese newcomers,” Forbes said. “Another 59 newcomers hopped on to the list on the back of a historic initial public offering market.”

Li Ka-shing, seen here with son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, saw his fortune grow by US$12 billion to US$33.7 billion last year. He continues to be Hong Kong’s wealthiest resident. Photo: Dickson Lee
Li Ka-shing, seen here with son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, saw his fortune grow by US$12 billion to US$33.7 billion last year. He continues to be Hong Kong’s wealthiest resident. Photo: Dickson Lee

A record 493 newcomers joined the list globally, roughly one new billionaire every 17 hours. India had the third-highest number of billionaires, with 140. A quarter of the 2,755 members of the rich list lived in just 10 cities. Altogether, the 1,149 billionaires from Asia-Pacific were worth US$4.7 trillion, compared with the US billionaires’ US$4.4 trillion.

Half of China’s new billionaires made their fortunes from manufacturing or technology ventures. They include the country’s top newcomer, Chen Zhiping, and its richest new woman billionaire, Kate Wang, both of whom made their money from e-cigarette manufacturing.

In the technology sector, spectacular valuation gains at green energy companies last year buoyed the fortunes of Cao Renxian, the founder of solar inverter maker Sungrow Power Supply, and Li Xiang, the founder of electric vehicles start-up Li Auto.

The average net worth of the 210 Chinese newcomers has risen to US$1.9 billion from US$1.5 billion last year. Of these, 26 were women. Their average age was 53, a decade younger than the global average.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, remains the world’s richest person for the fourth consecutive year. His net worth grew by US$64 billion to US$177 billion last year. Tesla’s Elon Musk, who came in second, has seen his fortune grow by US$126.4 billion to US$151 billion.

This article Forbes billionaires list: Beijing ends New York’s seven-year run as home to most number of rich people, as surging stocks boost tech, manufacturing moguls first appeared on South China Morning Post

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