Amid coronavirus outbreak, fortunes from drugs and online entertainment businesses helped China produce three times as many new billionaires as the US in the past year, a ranking report on wealthiest people in the world showed.
In the past year ending 31 January 2020, 182 new billionaires were created in the Greater China region (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan), taking the total to 799, according to the 2020 Hurun Global Rich List released on Wednesday. In comparison, the US produced 59 new billionaires.
"China today has more billionaires than the U.S. and India combined," said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and chairman of the Hurun Report. The report has counted 629 American billionaires and 137 in India.
The report said that the epidemic in China caused stock valuations of Chinese companies in online education, online games and vaccinations to shoot up.
Due to quarantines and travel restrictions impose in the country to limit the spread of the virus, demand for online services grew. This made founders like Robin Li of Baidu, owner of popular online video platform iQiyi, billionaries.
Entrepreneurs of healthcare businesses specialising in vaccinations including An Kang of Hualan Biological Engineering and Jiang Rensheng of Zhifei Biological Products also benefitted.
Cheng Xianfeng of drug maker Yifan Xinfu Pharmaceutical and Shen Ya of online discount retailer Vipshop were among the new entrants to the billionaire list.
In the year ending January, tech stocks in China have surged 77 percent, while Chinese pharma companies gained 37 percent, which is significantly higher than 16 percent rise in world stocks.
"A boom in tech valuations and strong stockmarkets across the US, India and China propelled the billionaires to record heights," said Hoogewerf.
The report ranks Beijing as the world's billionaire capital for the fifth year, with 110 billionaires, against 98 in New York. Shanghai now has more billionaires than Hong Kong, claiming the third spot.