Survey Finds China Passes U.S. In Number Of Billionaires

BEIJING (AP) — China has passed the United States in the number of billionaires, driven by the rise of fortunes in technology and manufacturing, according to a survey released Thursday.

         Despite a cooling economy, the number of Chinese billionaires rose by 242 this year to 596, according to The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealthy. It said that surpassed the 537 the company found in the United States.

         The report reflected the success of online retailing, entertainment and other service businesses, while traditional industries such as steel and natural resources have declined.

         No. 1 on this year's list is Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, which operates hotels, shopping malls and cinemas, at $34.4 billion, up 52 percent from last year.

         No. 2 is Jack Ma of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group at $22.7 billion, followed by Zeng Qinghou of the Wahaha soft drinks and mineral water empire with $21.2 billion.

         Ma Huateng of Tencent Ltd., operator of the popular WeChat social media service, is in fourth place and Jun Lei of smartphone maker Xiaomi is No. 5.

         New additions included Frank Wang, founder of DJI, the world's biggest maker of civilian drone aircraft, with a net worth of $3.7 billion, and Cheng Wei of taxi-hailing app Didi-Kuaidi, with $1 billion.

         China's economy grew by 7 percent in the quarter ending in July over a year earlier, down from last year's 7.4 percent annual expansion and the lowest level since the 2008 global crisis.

         Communist leaders are trying to steer the world's second-largest economy to more self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption and service businesses to reduce 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," Rupert Hoogwerf, chairman and chief researcher of The Hurun Report, said in a statement.

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