China’s number of billionaires is rising as the country’s super-rich thrive in the midst of a pandemic.

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The number of billionaires in China rose by almost 30 percent this year as the country’s super-rich prospered during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are now 878 billionaires in the country, 257 more than in 2019, widening the gap between the billionaires in China and the US, which, according to the Hurun report, has almost 700 people qualifying for the nickname.

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma remains at the top for the third year, ahead of Pony Ma and Zhang Shanshan.

The China Rich List 2020, published by the Hurun Research Institute and its founder, Rupert Hoogewerf, shows an asset growth of $1.5 trillion, far exceeding expectations.

“The world has never seen so much wealth created in just one year,” Hoogewerf wrote in the report. “China’s entrepreneurs have done much better than expected. Despite COVID-19 they have risen to record levels”.

Jack Ma’s imminent IPO of the Ant Group and a heavy dependence on the Alibaba e-commerce platform during the COVID-19 lockout have pushed the 56-year-old’s value up 45 percent to $58.8 billion.

Pony Ma, who owns Tencent and the ubiquitous Chinese app WeChat, increased his assets by 50 percent to 57.4 billion dollars.

Leading the 257 new billionaires this year is Shanshan, who is famous for bottled water in Nongfu, now worth $53.7 billion and the third richest person in the world’s second largest economy.

Despite a crippling coronavirus freeze in the first quarter of 2020, China is continuing its “V-shaped boom” and will be the only major economy to grow this year, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

“This year has seen the greatest increase in prosperity in the 22 years of the Hurun China Rich List. The boom in the stock markets and a flood of new listings have created five new dollar billionaires every week in China over the past year,” Hoogewerf wrote.

He added: “China’s rich stockbrokers added $1.5tn, which is half of the UK’s annual GDP, and $4 trillion, more than the GDP of Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy.

“The Hurun China Rich List recorded more created wealth this year than the previous five years combined, indicating that the structure of the economy has evolved away from traditional sectors such as manufacturing and real estate to a new economy.

Against all odds, China’s super-rich in industries such as e-commerce, online gaming, food delivery and logistics have managed to benefit from the circumstances of the coronavirus, which was first reported in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

Wang Wei, whose SF Express is known as the “FedEx of China”, doubled its assets to $35.3 billion and shot into the top 10 in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Wang Xing, the founder of Meituan’s food delivery app, ranks 13th in this year’s list of China’s riches. The 41-year-old quadrupled his fortune to $25 billion during the pandemic.

According to the Hurun report, the average age of this year’s rich list, which had an asset limit of nearly $300 million, was 55, with 256 people under 40 on the list.

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