China’s super wealthy set to grow by 46% in the next five years, report claims
The United States leads the world in the number of ultra-rich individuals, but it was China that saw the fastest gain in 2020, according to the latest Wealth Report by property consultancy Knight Frank. It seems the Covid-19 pandemic did little to dampen the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest. In China, its elite club of people whose net worth exceeds US$30 million, excluding their primary residence, grew by 16% in 2020 compared to an 11% growth in the number of Sweden’s ultra-rich residents and ahead of Singapore at 10%, according to the 13th edition of the report. At the other end of the wealthy scale, Greece’s ultra-wealthy population declined by one-third. “The number of UHNWI [ultra hi
Money to burn: Chinese elite swap international travel for high-end spending at home
Watches, diamonds, gold and leather goods were among the luxury items that made up a whopping US$54 billion spent by China’s wealthiest families last year. With coronavirus severely curtailing all international travel – and extravagant shopping excursions to Paris, Dubai, New York and London – affluent families in China have been forced to shop up a storm at home in a bid to reduce their anxiety about border closures that keep them stuck in China. “Before the outbreak, we would travel abroad a lot every year, or even live for a while away from the mainland. Last year I turned to shop more for watches, diamonds and gold to compensate for the regret for not being able to travel abroad,” said
China’s rich nervous to move assets overseas amid pandemic crisis
For years, China’s wealthiest have strived to gain residency overseas in order to protect their assets, but the pandemic has complicated matters.  Many are now facing a million-dollar question, do they stay in China and risk losing their assets, or move abroad where they risk contracting the virus? According to consultants and business people, many are conflicted and feel pressured that the Chinese government could seize their assets in what is perceived as a campaign against business owners. Among them is Wendy Zhao and her husband, who own properties worth more than US$3 million in Shenzhen, China’s hi-tech hub.  They are at odds over whether to move to New Zealand next year to start a ne
Entertainment spending highlights China’s great wealth divide
If ever there was a barometer of China’s rich and poor divide, it is a new report on how much people spend on entertainment and leisure activities. Almost 45% of the population - equivalent to 620 million people in China – spend less than US$153 on entertainment for the entire year, a new survey reveals. About 4.1% of respondents said they spent nothing on leisure. “The last time I went to a wedding reception in a neighboring village, I spent 80 yuan (US$12) on a gift,” said Luo Xiu, who is in her 50s and lives in Wan’an county in the southwestern Jiangxi province. “I had a good meal and fun there. I think that is my only expense on leisure in the last year.”  The survey, by the Chinese Aca
China’s richest millennials boost their wealth to a combined US$223 billion
As the pandemic took hold this year, thousands of entrepreneurs watched helplessly as their fortunes vanished overnight – but not China’s hottest live-streaming star, Viya.  Instead, her popularity and net worth of some US$30 million continued to skyrocket.  The 35-year-old is among China’s wealthiest millennials who increased their wealth in 2020 to a combined US$223 billion.  According to the latest wealth rankings from the respected Hurun Report, the country had 60 billionaires aged under 40 this year.  From young tech entrepreneurs and real estate tycoons to celebrities and athletes, we take a look at the country’s wealthiest millionaires and billionaires and reveal how they became part
Beijing is censoring a French economist Xi Jinping once praised
When French economist Thomas Piketty published his acclaimed Capital in the 21st Century in 2013, it was an immediate hit upon release in China, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The nearly 700-page book, an analysis and critique of modern capitalism and inequality, even won praise from President Xi Jinping. In a 2015 speech he used its findings on surging inequality in the United States and Europe to claim that Marxist political economy was as relevant as ever. But Piketty’s new book Capital and Ideology, which expands on the theme of inequality, looks increasingly unlikely to have the same success after falling foul of China’s censors. Published outside China last year, it has yet
The reclusive Chinese billionaire whose kidnapping brought unwanted fame
He Xiangjian, the Chinese billionaire who founded the world’s biggest home appliances maker Midea Group and was the victim of a recent botched kidnap attempt, is a man of few words. The man with a $25 billion fortune shares only 26 words with his staff and customers on Midea’s official website. But plenty has been written about He – China’s sixth-richest person, according to Forbes – since June 14, when five kidnappers with explosives held the 77-year-old for ransom after breaking into his luxury villa in Foshan, his and Midea’s birthplace in southern China. Local police arrested the suspects after He’s son – 55-year old He Jianfeng, who sits on the Midea board – sneaked out of the property
Rich Chinese diners can’t get enough of this musky ‘white gold’
Averaging €300 for 100 grams (about $1,350 per pound) – but with the largest specimens selling for substantially more – highly sought-after white truffles from Italy’s northern Piedmont region are commonly called “white gold.” The Chinese love affair with these musky-tasting truffles has given rise to a niche industry of cooks, businessmen and millionaires from Shanghai to Singapore. They have become the main buyers of the expensive delicacy and the major protagonists in the annual truffle drama – the yearly auction in the Piedmont town of Alba. “Each year in Alba we stage the white truffle global auction, and for the past 15 years it has been held simultaneously through streaming in Hong Ko
The rise and fall of Hong Kong socialite Azura
On October 15, 2018, 46-year-old tech expert Jason, from New York, flew to Hong Kong on a week-long business trip.  He checked into a room at the Four Seasons, in Central, and when a lunch appointment was canceled, he happily nursed an afternoon drink at the hotel’s Pool Bar. “Then I looked up,” he recalls, “and this incredible, striking woman walked in.” Jason remembers her warmly embracing the waitstaff, who responded with a fawning adoration reserved for regular clients. “She was shown to the table next to me, we made eye contact, she smiled, and that was it,” Jason says. Newly separated from his wife, his enchantment could be forgiven. Her lips were full, her flowing, lust­rous hair fram