Lonely Planet Writer

Beijing now the billionaire capital of the world

In a sign of the times, Beijing has overtaken New York to become the billionaire capital of the world. The Hurun Report, a monthly magazine based in Shanghai, China, has made the claim as part of the latest instalment of its annual billionaire rich list.

A view over Beijing.
Beijing now boasts 100 billionaires amongst the population. Image by Nikolaj Potanin / CC BY 2.0

The ascent of the Chinese capital’s billionaire residents has nudged the previous number one on the list, New York City, into second place. In 2015, the total number of billionaires in Beijing skyrocketed by 32 to a total of 100, despite a slowing Chinese economy, largely off the back of the public listing of private companies. New York added five billionaires to its total in the same period, meaning there are now 95 billionaire New Yorkers. Of the top ten cities globally, five are in China. The others are Moscow, London, Mumbai and Paris.

China is the top-ranked country for billionaires, with 568. The US boasts 535, followed by India in third position, with 111. The publisher of the report, Rupert Hoogewerf, said that the list underestimates the number of China’s billionaires by about fifty per cent, as many of the country’s wealthiest residents go to extraordinary lengths to hide their wealth. “Think of it like an iceberg,” he told a CNN report, “the tip of it is much smaller than the whole.”

The report is full of interesting insights, such as the fact that 12.5% of the world’s billionaires are migrants, while 34% are self-made, having received no parental financial support. There are more billionaires in the technology, media and telecommunications sector than any other sector of the world’s economy. The total global number is 2188, up by half in only three years. That said, 2015 wasn’t a great year for new billionaires – the total only grew by 99, whereas two years earlier the total number of billionaires grew by a staggering 606.