China’s top five billionaires are now worth as much as Bill Gates

Double the billions for Wang Jianlin.
Double the billions for Wang Jianlin.
Image: Reuters/Suzie Wong
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Despite an economic slowdown, fears of a real estate bubble and Beijing’s crackdown on lavish spending, China’s richest are getting richer at an amazing pace.

China added 64 new US dollar billionaires last year, to reach 315 overall. The fortunes of the five wealthiest people doubled, according to the Hurun Wealth Report, an annual ranking of China’s super-rich released today.

The personal fortune of real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin, who is building Western Europe’s tallest residential tower in London, doubled to $22 billion, taking him to the top spot on the list. Beverage mogul Zong Qinghou and his family, last year’s number one, came in second place with $18.7 billion. Zong, who said this summer that wealth belonged in hands of “those who know how to create more wealth,” owns drinks group Wahaha.

Tencent’s CEO Pony Ma, Great Wall Motor’s Wei Jianjun and 32-year old real estate developer Yang Huiyan rounded out the top five.

While the rising ranks of billionaires and growth in their fortunes is impressive, the combined wealth of China’s top five individuals and families, at around $67.5 billion, is roughly the same as the fortune amassed by America’s richest man, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.