Another Chinese city surpasses New York in the number of billionaires

HONG KONG – Three years ago, American businessman Raj Oswal traveled to Shenzhen, China on behalf of a client. He was so impressed, he stayed and started his own technology company.

“You won’t find many cities in China or Asia that have embraced innovation like Shenzhen,” Oswal said, comparing his move from California to his father’s decision to leave India in the 1970s to continue his studies. An industry in the United States.

Oswal described Shenzhen, a city of 17.5 million people on the southern border of China with Hong Kong, as a place of “youth hope”.

Increasingly, it is being filled with money. The former fishing village, now known as China’s Silicon Valley technology hub, joins Beijing and Shanghai as the world’s top three cities for billionaires, surpassing New York for the first time this year.

Download NBC News app For important news and politics

Beijing has 144 billionaires, followed by Shanghai with 121, according to the Hurun Global Rich List, an annual ranking compiled by a private Shanghai-based company. Shenzhen has 113 billionaires at 110. New York, London ranked fifth with 101.

The proliferation of wealth is not news to the people of Shenzhen, who added eight billionaires since last year.

“It will almost certainly raise awareness in other parts of the world,” said Rupert Hookwerf, head researcher and lead researcher at the listed company Hurun Report.

Although there may be fluctuations in the rankings, he said the growing number of billionaires in Shenzhen reflects a “megatrend” that will attract more young entrepreneurs to the city in the coming years.

“Shenzhen is a significant indicator of where it came from and where it is going,” he said.

Shenzhen’s uprising began in 1980, when it was named China’s first special economic zone as part of the country’s “reform and opening” under then-leader Deng Xiaoping. This allowed the city to test market capitalism in an effort to attract foreign investment. From 1979 to 2021, Shenzhen’s GDP grew from less than $ 28 million to nearly $ 475 billion.

Today, the city is home to some of China’s largest technology companies, including telecommunications company Huawei and Internet partner Tencent, which inspire others to follow suit. Last year, 2,500 new government-recognized high-tech companies were set up in Shenzhen, bringing the total number to 17,000, according to the local government.

Shenzhen is the headquarters of some of China’s largest technology companies, including Internet company Tencent. Chloe Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images File

It is also part of what China calls the Greater Bay Area, an integrated economic and business hub that aims to connect Shenzhen with eight other cities in Guangdong province, including the Chinese areas of Hong Kong and Macau.

After his first arrival in 2019, when he took a taxi from Shenzhen Airport, the opportunities for Oswal were obvious.

“All the stereotypes I had in Chinese cities were broken one by one with the modern and lush urban landscape changing by the roadside,” he said.

Heng Chen, an associate professor of economics at the University of Hong Kong, said the welcoming environment for entrepreneurs had helped Shenzhen’s speed.

“The population structure is still young compared to other super cities or first tier cities in China, so this is also one of the reasons why it is such a very attractive place,” he said.

In addition, government officials in Shenzhen “make a lot of resources and financial resources to attract the best talent from the rest of the world.”

But the city has faced steep challenges during the corona virus outbreak, especially as China has been battling its worst outbreak in two years in recent weeks. The government’s zero tolerance strategy relies on border closures, mass checks and severe locks, and restrictions have caused delays at Shenzhen factories and its port, one of the largest in the world.

During a week-long lockout in Shenzhen last month, authorities allowed Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group to resume some production operations using the “closed-loop” system that employees must have on site.

Despite the financial pressures of the epidemic, China’s economy continues to grow, “said Zhang-Jin Wei, professor of economics at the Columbia School of Business and former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank. “They can adapt to new situations.”

Wei also said that Shenzhen offers favorable policies such as tax breaks to high-tech companies.

According to the Hurun Report, there are 3,381 billionaires in the world as of January 14, a net increase of 153 over the previous year, and their total asset value is up 4 percent to $ 15.2 trillion. Of those, 1,133 were in China, 716 in the United States and 716 in 2016, surpassing the United States in the number of billionaires.

But China’s millionaires have also been “severely affected” over the past year, the report said, adding that regulatory repression of technology, education and other industries and the government’s “public prosperity” campaign are encouraging the even distribution of wealth.

China lost $ 160 billion last year, more than any other country. Colin Huang, founder of e-commerce site Pinduoduo, suffered the biggest loss of $ 50 billion as shares of his Nasdaq-listed company plummeted. Xu Jin, chairman of the Evergrande Group, lost more than $ 23 billion as his company failed to pay its bond deadline.

Zhong Shanshan, founder of Nongfu Spring, a bottled water and soft drink company, is the richest man in China with $ 72 billion in assets. Fight Dance founder Zhang Yiming, the company that owns the video processor TikTok, is in second place with $ 54 billion. Behind him is Zeng Yuqun, founder of CATL, a maker of $ 53 billion worth of electric-vehicle batteries.

China (Shenzhen) Information Technology Summit
Bonnie Mae, Tencent’s CEO, left China’s top three richest people for the first time since 2015.Via the Visual China Panel / Getty Images file

Tencent’s Pony Ma and technology company Jack Ma of Alibaba, two of China’s big names in the business, both emerged from China’s top three richest for the first time since 2015. Bonnie Mae dropped to fourth on the list after her fortune dropped to $ 52. Billion, followed by Jack Ma with $ 37 billion.

None of the Chinese billionaires in the global top 10, led by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, have a net worth of more than $ 200 billion. Hookwerf attributed this to the fact that Chinese billionaires tend to run domestic businesses without global focus.

Indian telecom tycoon Mukesh Ambani is the only Asian in the US and France’s top 10 list. But he is shifting the title of Asia’s richest man to Gautam Adani, India’s infrastructure tycoon. According to Hurun, the two have a net worth of about $ 100 billion each and are ranked 10th and 11th on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires released this week.

Leave a Comment