China’s super-rich: the billionaires in Communist party’s sights

Country has more ultra-wealthy people than any other – and president’s patience with them has run out

Billionaires were probably not part of the plan for the founders of the Chinese Communist party. Nevertheless, extraordinary economic growth has meant that more than 1,000 of its citizens had fortunes worth more than $1bn this year, according to one measure – the first time any country has achieved that mark.

Under Xi Jinping, China’s patience with the ultra-wealthy has now run out, with the president pursuing a “common prosperity” agenda to tackle inequality – humbling some of the world’s richest people and triggering them into a flood of donations.

Jack Ma

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once taught English as his job but, after amassing his internet tech fortune, he became fond of pontificating on the billionaire Davos circuit. However, in November China’s regulators blocked the stock market listing of Ant Group, a financial firm spun off from retail and technology parent Alibaba. Ma briefly disappeared from view after the blow.

Colin Huang

Former Google engineer Colin Huang only founded Pinduoduo in 2015, but the rapid growth of the online retail platform has led it to rival Alibaba. Innovations such as melding social media with e-commerce have excited investors – but have also put its earnings in the spotlight. Huang stood back as chairman in March and last month Pinduoduo said it would give profits worth up to $1.5bn (£1.1bn) to agricultural development causes. Pinduoduo is listed on New York’s Nasdaq exchange with a $125bn valuation, meaning Huang’s fortune stands at $42bn.

Lei Jun

Lei Jun’s Xiaomi is aiming for Samsung’s crown as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer after recently overtaking Apple. He has expanded the company’s consumer electronics offering to electric scooters and even air fryers, and he has ambitions to build an electric car. In July he donated shares worth 17.4bn Hong Kong dollars (£1.6bn) to his personal and corporate foundations.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

Chen Dongsheng

Chen Dongsheng has impeccable Communist party connections: his wife is the granddaughter of Mao Zedong, the dictator for almost 30 years up to 1976. Chen, founder and chairman of Taikang Life Insurance, one of China’s largest insurers, has interests in the art world including a former stake in the Sotheby’s auction house. Taikang gave 1bn yuan (£113m) to Wuhan University in August.

Zhang Yiming

TikTok has taken the world by storm since Zhang Yiming founded it in 2012. However, he shocked investors in May when he resigned as chief executive as the social media company prepares for an initial public offering. He gave 500m yuan to an education charity named after his grandmother in his home province of Fujian.

Contributor

Jasper Jolly

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Chinese president vows to ‘adjust excessive incomes’ of super rich
Chinese Communist party to crack down on almost weekly creation of billionaire company bosses

Phillip Inman

18, Aug, 2021 @4:50 PM

Article image
Booming global stock markets swell ranks of the super rich
World population of people in ultra-high-net-worth bracket increased by 12% last year

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

05, Sep, 2018 @6:00 PM

Article image
London to remain a 'magnet for global super-rich despite Brexit'
UK capital will continue to pull millionaires and billionaires from Asia and Middle East, says report by property consultants

Rupert Neate

01, Mar, 2017 @1:46 PM

Article image
Call for super-rich to donate more to tackle coronavirus pandemic
While some billionaires have pledged vast chunks of their fortunes others have been criticised for not giving enough, or even at all

Rupert Neate

11, Apr, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Global stock market rout leaves world with 57 fewer billionaires
Big fall in wealth in China as combined fortunes of ultra-rich dips for first time since financial crisis, says UBS

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

08, Nov, 2019 @12:47 PM

Article image
What to buy the super-rich this Christmas? A luxury experience, of course
Retailers’ bids to woo wealthy include private dinner inside Jimmy Choo’s or Antarctica trip

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

21, Dec, 2018 @3:00 PM

Article image
US-China trade war and interest rate rises spell losses for the super-rich
After seven years of growth, assets of the richest people on the planet fall by 3%

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

09, Jul, 2019 @4:00 AM

Article image
US billionaires 'have received $1.1tn windfall in Covid pandemic'
Money made by richest 660 people could pay for all of coronavirus relief package, says IPS thinktank

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

26, Jan, 2021 @11:37 AM

Article image
Billionaires' wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis
Super-rich increase fortunes by more than a quarter during market turmoil

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

07, Oct, 2020 @1:01 AM

Article image
Billionaires only, please! London vault for the ultra-rich opens
Exclusive safety deposit bank near Harrods angles to be world’s most expensive

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

01, Dec, 2019 @1:01 PM