The Chinese capital added 33 billionaires last year, taking its total to 100, as the country bounced back quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, according to the 2021 Forbes World’s Billionaires list. New York is home to 99 billionaires.
Beijing’s wealthiest newcomer is 34-year-old Wang Ning, whose toy business Pop Mart went public in Hong Kong in December 2020. Meanwhile, Zhang Yiming, Beijing’s richest resident and founder of TikTok, doubled his net worth to $35.6bn (£25bn).
Despite Beijing having more billionaires, the cumulative net worth of New York City’s billionaires is greater, at $80bn (£58bn).
In NYC, Michael Bloomberg, worth $59bn (£42bn), is the wealthiest individual.
The US also still has more billionaires than any other country, with 724, but China is closing the gap with 698 (including 71 from Hong Kong and 1 from Macao), according to Forbes.
India has the third highest number of billionaires, with 140.
China’s Zhong Shanshan is the biggest gainer in percentage terms this year. His net worth lifted to $68.9bn (£50bn), up 3,345 per cent from $2bn a year ago, after he took his bottled water company Nongfu Spring public last fall on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
A record 493 newcomers were added to the Forbes list this year — roughly one new billionaire every 17 hours. Together, they are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list.
“The very, very rich got very, very richer,” Forbes’ Chief Content Officer Randall Lane told Reuters.
Noting that inequality had widened since the virus first hit, the International Monetary Fund has said taxes on high-income earners could help pay for the cost of managing the Covid-19 pandemic.