China’s super-rich saw their wealth fall by the largest amount in over two decades, as the Russia-Ukraine war, Beijing’s zero-Covid measures and falling local stock markets pummeled fortunes, an annual rich list showed.
The Hurun Rich list, which ranks China’s wealthiest people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan ($690m), said only 1,305 people made the threshold this year, down 11% from last year. Their total wealth was $3.5tn, down 18% from last year.
The number of individuals with $10bn or more fell by 29, and the number of billionaires, in US dollars, dropped by 239 this year, according to the list.
“This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report which compiles the list.
The global economic outlook has been heavily affected by the war in Ukraine and slowing economic growth in China, that has in turn been exacerbated by the country’s ultra-strict Covid policies and a prolonged property slump.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts China’s economy will expand only 3.2% in 2022, which would be the slowest rate since the 1980s, excluding the 2.4% Covid-affected pace in 2020.
A two-year regulatory crackdown that has hit China’s biggest tech names such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, and concerns that President Xi Jinping will sacrifice economic growth for the clue, have also weighed on investor confidence, with Hong Kong and mainland stock markets tumbling in recent weeks.
Zhong Shanshan, whose listed companies include water bottler Nongfu Spring and vaccine developer Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, took first place on the list for the second year running, with a fortune that grew 17% to $65bn.
The founder of ByteDance, which owns TikTok, Zhang Yiming, took second place, but saw his wealth fall 28% to $35bn due to a drop in ByteDance’s valuation. In third place was Zeng Yuqun, chairman of battery giant CATL.
Yang Huiyan, the businesswoman behind Country Garden Holdings, which like many other Chinese developers has been battling debt issues, saw her wealth fall by $15.7bn, the biggest drop on the 2022 list.
Tencent founder Pony Ma posted the second largest drop, falling $14.6bn amid sliding tech stock prices, to take fifth place on the list. Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his family tumbled four places to be ranked number nine.