PRC, Beijing Now Lead World in Billionaires

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/26/2016 02:24:00 PM
Nothing better shatters the myth of the PRC as a "socialist" republic than the emergence of an uber-capitalist class in the billionaires. So China may be slowing economically nowadays, but several decades of astounding growth have nonetheless resulted in the flowering of this class in the meantime. So much for equality and all that communist propaganda. Unleashing market forces all those years ago has led to a lofty kind of stratification on a level not found in any purportedly "capitalist" country. To get rich is glorious, right?

This trend is working at two levels based on the most recent report by the infamous Hurun Rich List, the PRC's equivalent of Forbes and Fortune's billionaire listings. The first is that China now has more billionaires than any other country on Earth, although Hurun's methods are regarded with some suspicion by foreign sources:
The Hurun Report said China now has 568 billionaires versus the United States' 535, giving it the largest population of billionaires in the world. According to Hurun, China's billionaire population first surpassed the U.S. in August, and grew by a total of 90 last year.

Granted Hurun's numbers are subject to some debate, as they differ from those of Forbes and other wealth research firms, which still put the U.S. far ahead of China when it comes to billionaires. According to Forbes' 2015 China report, China has 335 billionaires compared with 536 in the U.S.
The potentially more interesting finding from the Hurun report is that Beijing--yes, that radically polluted capital of theirs--has surpassed New York in being the residence of the most billionaires:
Beijing, according to the list, has displaced New York as the “billionaire capital of the world,” with 100 billionaires compared with the Big Apple’s 95. Hong Kong, with 64 billionaires, and Shanghai, with 50, also placed in the top five. After New York, the only U.S. cities in the top 20 were San Francisco, the 12th-ranked city with 28 billionaires, and Los Angeles, No. 19, with 21.
That said, keep in mind that, in terms of billionaire provenance, Beijing is more provincial than more cosmopolitan New York since the Chinese capital has zero foreign billionaires residing there:
Unlike the U.S. cities, Beijing’s billionaires are all Chinese, Hurun’s founder, Rupert Hoogewerf, said in a phone interview. New York, he said, is “much more international. ... But in terms of super-wealth created, China has been coming up a lot in the past two years, and this is sort of the icing on the cake for it.” 
With Beijing's superpollution, you do have to wonder if folks wealthy enough to live anywhere they choose stay there. I wouldn't be surprised to find Beijing's distinction to be a short-lived one.