On 6 April 2021, Forbes published its 35th Annual World’s Billionaires List. A total of 2,755 billionaires entered the billionaire club, the number is unprecedented and exceeds 660 more a year ago. It’s been a special year like no other, global pandemic is a cause but at the same time, it offers a new view of global development – massive public offerings, skyrocketing cryptocurrencies, surging technology, and climbing sustainable finance.
As China’s economy gradually recovers and the capital market gets active, there are 626 new rich people from the Chinese mainland, counting 40% of the new faces. Last year, the Greater China region broke a record high with 492 billionaires on the list, but it still lags far behind the United States, which has 614 millionaires. Although there are more billionaires in the United States and unicorn companies are valued higher, China’s figures in these two areas have grown rapidly, undoubtedly heading for a better future.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in February 2020, U.S. stocks have rebounded strongly, helping global billionaires to reach new heights. However, among the ranks of billionaires, the wealth of tech-rich people reached 2.11 trillion euros at most, compared with only 1.18 trillion euros last year, an increase of about 80%. This year, a total of 365 technology giants have been listed on the “Forbes Global Billionaires List”, compared to 241 last year, which is second only to the financial and investment categories.
A key reason why the wealth of the technology industry ranks first is the “top-heavy” nature of the list. The top 20 technology giants have a total wealth of 1.01 trillion euros, accounting for almost half of the total wealth of the technology-rich. In addition, 8 of the 20 richest people on the planet are from the technology industry, and 6 of them are among the top 10. Although the United States has the largest number of tech tycoons, China’s fast-growing Internet industry has spawned a new generation of technology giants, which has impacted the dominance of the United States.
What is even more remarkable is that China, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan surpassed the United States for the first time in terms of the number of rich people, with a total of 745. The total wealth of China exceeds one-fifth. As for the wealthy people born and raised in China and those whose main business is in China, their influence is greatly underestimated. Because this list is based on nationality statistics, Chinese people holding passports from other countries are not included.
Technological innovation is one of the important sources of Chinese wealth. The richest Chinese are working on real estate, manufacturing, and investment. However, more than half of the top rich Chinese are from the IT industry. The process of creating wealth mainly relies on technological innovation and does not rely on land or resources. In the future list of the rich, it is expected that more Chinese entrepreneurs and technological elites will make their fortunes through technological advancement, invention, and creation. Only in this way, this ever-increasing wealth and richness is the blessing of not only Chinese society but also the world.
What is the driving force behind China’s substantial wealth growth? During the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s economy has outperformed most countries in the world, and this trend is likely to continue this year, which will strongly boost the capital market. China’s efforts to lead the world in the field of science and technology have also spawned much new wealth for mainland China. China’s medical industry has provided the world with the kits and medical supplies needed to contain the epidemic. Among the newly recruited mainland Chinese billionaires, more than 10% come from the medical industry. Capital market reforms have made it easier to go public and have also contributed to China’s wealth growth.
More Chinese entering the billionaires list also credits to the strong persistence of Chinese economy during the pandemic. According to China’s government report, in 2020, China’s gross domestic product was 13,21 billion euros, breaking through the 13 trillion euros mark for the first time. The achievement is very amazing when understanding China’s development path. In 1952, when the People’s Republic of China was founded, its GDP was only 8.83 billion euros. In 1978, China started to implement reform and opening-up, and its GDP reached 47.84 million euros; in 2000, GDP exceeded 1.3 trillion euros, making it the sixth-largest economy in the world. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China’s economy has entered a rapid growth path. From 2016 to 2018, the total GDP has continuously exceeded 9.1 trillion euros, 10.4 trillion euros, and 11.7 trillion euros. In 2020, China took the lead in controlling the epidemic, resuming work and production, and realizing a change from negative to positive economic growth, becoming the only major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth.
In many respects, the outlook for this year seems to be as promising as last year: economic competition between China and the United States will continue for a long time, and for a long time to come, China is expected to be wealthy faster and cover more people.
(Source: Forbes, Government of China, World Bank, the Register, Guangdong International Fair for the export of epidemic prevention materials)