Chinese billionaires outnumber those in the Unites States for the first time in a 'turning point' as the communist nation takes another step towards taking over as the world's largest.
China now boasts 596 billionaires - 60 more than the U.S.- after a staggering 242 Chinese people became billionaires for the first time in just one year, according to a new survey.
The wealthiest man on the globe is Microsoft founder Bill Gates - a title he's held for 16 of the past 21 years.
China's richest citizen is entertainment mogul Wang Jianlin, owner of AMC cinemas and founder of conglomerate Wanda, has a net worth of $34.4billion - less than half than that of Gates.
China's richest are catching up.
The list reflects a power shift in China’s economy, with the surge in the number of super rich fuelled by the growth of the nation’s IT and manufacturing industries.
Online retailing, entertainment and other service businesses have been booming in China, while more traditional industries such as steel and natural resources have suffered a decline.
Top of the billionaire rich list is Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping malls and cinemas, whose wealth has increased 52 per cent since last year to US$34.4 billion (£22.2 billion)
He is followed by Jack Ma in second place, the creator of the e-commerce Alibaba Group, with a fortune of US$22.7 (£14.7 billion) billion, and Zong Qinghou of the Wahaha soft drinks and mineral water empire with $21.2 billion (£13.7 billion).
China’s leaders are attempting to transform the world’s second largest economy in the communist nation to become more self-sustainable, pushing domestic consumption and service business over traditional reliance on trade, investment and heavy industry.
“Despite the slowdown in the economy, China’s richest have defied gravity, recording their best year ever, and creating more wealth than any country has ever done before in a year,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of The Hurun Report.
The billionaire survey comes just days after Credit Suisse revealed in its annual wealth report that China’s middle class has overtaken the US to become the largest in the world.
According to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, China is now leading the world for numbers of billionaires in what they describe as a historical 'turning point.'
'The world used to look to American entrepreneurs... for inspiration. This year, 2015, is a turning point.'
The soaring numbers of billionaires follows a global trend which has seen the rich defy plunging oil prices and a weakened euro to get even richer.