As long as I can remember China has had a special fascination for me. During my youth I avidly read the books of Pearl S. Buck, the novelist who depicted every strata of Chinese life while the daughter of a missionary in that country.
In my business career, as the head of a retailing conglomerate, I travelled to China on numerous occasions and my fascination grew in leaps and bounds. Now having attained the mature age of eighty-four, my roaming days have diminished and are currently at a standstill – although my publishing activities and enamour remain as vibrant as ever.
How that huge country is now one of the great economies in the world does not surprise me one bit. To read that China has surpassed the USA in boasting the highest number of billionaires in the world is no doubt a staggering achievement. And this despite a slowdown in its previously booming finances.
China has five hundred and ninety-six billionaires, a report has shown, compared to five hundred and thirty-seven in America. The wealthy elite saw their numbers swell by two hundred and forty-two in just a year as China overtook America, the richest nation on the globe, to become the world’s biggest economy.
Report authors Hurun, a monthly magazine which compiles China’s rich-list as the Sunday Times does in the UK, said the explosive growth in the country’s wealth – fuelled by a surge in technology investments – was the fastest it had seen in any nation since its index started seventeen years ago.
China has developed huge industries in online retailing, entertainment and other service businesses.
The wealthiest person is Wang Jianlin, Chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping malls and cinemas, who is worth £22 billion. In second place is Jack Ma of e-commerce giant the Ali Baba group, at £14. 9 billion.
According to the Hurun report, India has the third largest number of billionaires in the world at ninety-seven, followed by Russia with ninety-three. Britain comes in fifth, with eighty.
Hurun’s Rupert Hoogwerf said: ‘China’s riches have defied gravity, recording their best year ever and creating more wealth than any country has done in a year.’
Oh well, the merry-go-round of wealth never stops to amaze us as history will testify. China is on the rise and the world has to take notice of a new super power.