The number of billionaires in China has overtaken that of the United States for the first time, an annual survey said on Thursday, calling it a “turning point” for the super-wealthy. Communist-ruled China now has 596 billionaires, up a “staggering” 242 over the last year, Shanghai-based luxury magazine publisher Hurun Report said, surpassing the 537 Americans.
“This is the first year we’ve seen they’ve been eclipsed. They are being overtaken by Chinese, and not just a little bit.”
The number of Chinese billionaires would increase to 715 if those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were included, the survey said.
“The world used to look to American entrepreneurs... for inspiration. This year, 2015, is a turning point,” said Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf.
“In 2015, the entrepreneurs are Chinese, they are not American. We have American ones, but the king is Chinese,” Hoogewerf said.
Real estate and entertainment magnate Wang Jianlin dethroned founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Jack Ma as the country’s richest person, Hurun’s annual wealth ranking showed.
Wang, who founded conglomerate Wanda, saw his fortune jump more than 50% to $34.4 billion, helped by a surge in the stock price of a listed unit.
Wang is known outside China for a string of overseas acquisitions including the organizer of Ironman extreme endurance contests, Swiss sports marketing group Infront, and a stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid.
He burst into the spotlight in 2012 by buying US cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion.