Number of Chinese billionaires plummets by a fifth below 1000


China’s wealthy have taken a huge hit with the number of Chinese billionaires plummeting by a fifth this year, the largest fall in the 24 years since the rich list began.

The Hurun Rich List revealed that the number of Chinese billionaires dropped about 20 per cent from 1185 to 946, while their total wealth also fell by 18 per cent.

Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said China’s billionaires had been hit hard in the past year, with nine of the top 10 biggest wealth shrinkages across the world, as well as the largest fall in number of billionaires.

“E-commerce platforms, real estate, education, generic drugs and vaping were the hardest hit,” Mr Hoogewerf said. “The recent Covid outbreak across the country and increased tension with the US combined … to see the steepest drop in value since the 2008 financial crisis, with many of China’s biggest companies shedding up to half their value,” he said.

“Other factors in play include continued anti-monopoly regulations, pressure on real estate borrowings, efforts to stem the falling birthrate, carbon emission targets and the recently introduced common prosperity theme.”

China’s crisis plagued property sector, with cash-strapped developers billions in debt and struggling to complete projects, has seen a marked impact on the list.

The number of property developers on the list continued to fall, down from 50 per cent featuring on the list 20 years ago to only 10 per cent this year.

Asia’s wealthiest woman Yang Huiyan, the majority shareholder in Chinese property giant Country Garden, has watched her staggering wealth plummet this year.

She lost $US15.7 billion ($24.46 billion), or 59 per cent, and slipped 36 places to 47th on the list.

Yang inherited her wealth when her father, Country Garden founder Yang Guoqiang, transferred his shares to her in 2005, according to state media.

She became Asia’s richest woman two years later after the developer’s initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Chinese property juggernaut Evergrande had a horror time last year, with its billionaire founder losing a staggering $US17.2 billion ($A26 billion) as the firm neared collapse.

But the woes of owner Hui Ka Yan, 64, have continued as he was once one of the country’s richest people but he dropped out of the top 100, dropping 102 places to 172nd.

China’s tech crackdown, which has seen Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma banished, has also impacted the fortunes of China’s wealthy, alongside the US placing restrictions on tech exports.

The 58-year-old founder was once considered the wealthiest man in China, but his position slumped to ninth place from last year’s fifth spot after his net worth dropped 29 per cent.

Founder of tech giant Tencent, Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, saw almost a third of his wealth wiped out and he dropped to fifth place with his fortune decreasing by $US14.6 billion ($A22.74 billion).

TikTok entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, who owns the social media giant’s parent company ByteDance, still managed to secure second place on China’s rich list – but his net worth plunged 28 per cent to $US35 billion ($A54.5 billion).

But bottled water magnate Zhong Shanshan, who owns Nongfu Spring company, saw his wealth rise by 17 per cent to $US65 billion ($A101.17 billion) and was crowned as China’s top billionaire for the second year in a row.

Overall, the rich list found there were 3381 billionaires in the world, up 153 from last year and 1124 or 50 per cent from five years ago.

Originally published as Fewer Chinese billionaires as number plummets below 1000