A new wealth report has found that the number of extremely wealthy people in China is now nine times what it was only a decade ago.
The China Private Wealth Report is published every two years and measures the number of high net worth individuals (HNWI), people with at least 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) of investable assets, in the country.
According to the report, 1.6 million people in China met this marker in 2016, nearly nine times more than the 180,000 HNWIs counted in 2006. That number will rise even more by the end of this year, experts say, to about 1.87 million HNWIs. That’s an 18% increase in just one year.
While China’s growth rates for the wealthy are unusually high, the report predicts that they will slow down in the coming years. Last year, the value of China’s private wealth market was 165 trillion yuan after growing consistently by 21% each year between 2014 and 2016, but it’s expected to decline to a rate of 14% growth in 2017, with a total value of 188 trillion yuan.
China now has the fourth-highest number of HNWIs in the world, behind only the US, Japan and Germany. Earlier this year, the Hurun Global Rich List named Beijing as the “billionaire capital of the world” for the second straight year, as China’s capital continues to surpass even New York City as the world’s most popular home city for the world’s ultra-rich.
While this much wealth generation makes for strong economic growth in China, it is disproportionately benefiting the top 1% of the population. Last year, a Peking University study found that China’s wealth gap had reached dangerous levels with the top 1% owning one-third of the country’s wealth, while an ironic 1% of the mainland’s money went to the bottom 25% of earners.
70 million Chinese live below the poverty line, often leaving them without access to basic education and health care while living on less than $2.2 per day. Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to end extreme poverty in China by 2020, pledging to relocate 3.4 million people living in poverty to more developed communities in 2017.
Though that all may seem a bit ambitious, China has managed to lift 730 million people out of poverty in just over two decades, an unprecedented economic miracle you can watch happen in GIF form:
But keep in mind that just as the poor were getting a bit less poor, the rich were getting much, much more rich.
By Caroline Roy
[Images via Shanghai Daily]
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