In a record setting year, China leads the pack in billionaire bounce backs on Forbes’ 35th annual World’s Billionaires list. The Middle Kingdom is now home to 626 billionaires—up from 388 last year—and is again only second to the U.S., which has 724 billionaires. China’s blistering stock market and quick recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic led to 205 newcomers, while another 53 who had dropped off the list in previous years made the cut this go-around.
Not only does China have more billionaires than ever, its richest have bigger fortunes. The 626 Chinese billionaires’ collective net worth of $2.5 trillion is more than double last year’s total, when the Chinese moguls on the list were worth $1.2 trillion. The average net worth of a billionaire from the eastern nation is $4 billion—a 33% jump from last year. Together the top ten are worth $447 billion, nearly double the $224 billion they had a year ago. Chinese billionaires now account for nearly a fifth of the total wealth of the list, which has 2,755 billionaires with a collective net worth of $13.1 trillion.
Here are the top 10 richest people in China; net worths are as of March 5, 2021.
NET WORTH: $68.9 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: BEVERAGES
NET WORTH: $65.8 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: INTERNET MEDIA
His web-media giant, Tencent, which owns stakes in Tesla, Snap and Spotify, notched another win with the February public offering of video-sharing app Kuaishou. Tencent, which is best known for its messaging and social media app WeChat, owns 18% of the Hong Kong listed firm.
3. Colin Zheng Huang
NET WORTH: $55.3 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: E-COMMERCE
The founder of online discounter Pinduoduo stepped down as its chairman in March to pursue research in food and life sciences; he gave up his CEO role last July. In 2020, Pinduoduo surpassed Alibaba as China’s most popular e-commerce company with 788.4 million users, just five years after Huang launched the firm. The latter’s annual revenue ($72 billion) still dwarfs Pinduoduo’s ($9.1 billion).
NET WORTH: $48.4 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: E-COMMERCE
NET WORTH: $39 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: PACKAGE DELIVERY
Revenue of his S.F. Express—the “FedEx of China”—rose 37% in 2020 as e-commerce boomed during China’s Covid-19 lockdowns. Wang founded the company in 1993 and took it public on the Shenzhen Stock exchange 24 years later through a reverse merger; he still owns nearly 60% of the stock.
6. He Xiangjian
NET WORTH: $37.7 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: HOME APPLIANCES
The cofounder of electric-appliance maker Midea Group reportedly escaped a kidnapping attempt last June, when several men tried to break into his home using explosives. His son allegedly got out of the house and swam across a river to alert the authorities. He, who stepped down as Midea’s chairman in 2012, still owns a controlling stake with his family.
7. Zhang Yiming
NET WORTH: $35.6 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: TIKTOK
Zhang founded ByteDance, creator of popular short-video app TikTok, in a four-bedroom apartment in 2012. The company first hit it big with news aggregator app Toutiao in China, before taking the world by storm with TikTok. A December funding round valued the unicorn at $180 billion.
8. Qin Yinglin & family
NET WORTH: $33.5 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: PIG BREEDINGC
Qin founded China’s top hog producer, Muyuan Foodstuff Co., in 1992 with wife Qian Ying and just 22 pigs. The group now has 140,000 employees and produced over 18 million pigs in 2020. Qin is chairman, while Qian, who is also a billionaire, sits on the board.
9. William Lei Ding
NET WORTH: $33 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: ONLINE GAMES
Revenue at his Nasdaq-listed NetEase rose 24% in 2020 as pandemic lockdowns drove demand for its online-gaming and remote-learning products. The company’s pipeline of games include “Harry Potter: Magic Awakened,” “The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War” and “Pokémon Quest.”
10.Yang Huiyan & family
NET WORTH: $29.6 BILLION
SOURCE OF WEALTH: REAL ESTATE
The heiress is the largest shareholder of real estate developer Country Garden Holdings. Her stake was transferred to her from her father Yeung Kwok Keung, who founded the company and still serves as the chairman. The younger Yang chairs U.S.-listed education firm Bright Scholar Education Holdings.