In 2015 China also surpassed the United States with its total number of billionaires, hitting 596 by the year’s end (the US has 535) a staggering 242 up on the figure for 2014. Amazingly, that figure is only for mainland China; if the 119 billionaires that are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao are added, Greater China has 715 billionaires.

However, as recently revealed, China’s wealthy aren’t necessarily staying put, and more than 100,000 have fled the country since the dawn of the millennium. Even those who choose to stay and build their wealth to colossal proportions still maintain at least a toe in the West, as these three examples show.


Wang Jianlin


Despite being such an obvious champion of capitalism, Jianlin is a member of the Chinese communist party and served 16 years in the People’s Liberation Armey. He founded the nucleus of what would eventually become the Wanda Group in 1988 with the equivalent of just $80,000.


Jack Ma


51-year old Ma rose from poverty and overcame many rejections along the way, including four times by his local university and also in his attempts at finding work (he famously tells the story of how he was even rejected by KFC when it came to his city, the only applicant out of 24 for 23 available jobs not to be picked. Ma persevered however, and eventually went on to gain Bachelor Degrees in English and business.


While Ma is not quite as blatant with his vast fortune as many wealthy Chinese moguls who have invested massively in the West, in 2015 he purchased a home in Hong Kong for $193 million, the second highest figure ever paid for a domestic dwelling. Maybe he feels that with a profile as high as his, there is less chance that the Chinese authorities could come for him in the middle of the night. Hope he’s right!



Zong had a minimum of formal education and his first job was working at a salt farm. In 1987 he began selling milk in a school mini-grocery. He acquired a government loan and formed Wahaha (the sound of a baby laughing) and slowly but surely built the business into the largest drinks manufacturer in China.


34-year old Kelly is the chairwoman at Wahaha, and as its purchasing manager controls about 80% of the company’s assets, making her both one of the world’s most eligible and most powerful young women. Since joining the company in 2005 she has raised its global profile massively, and Wahaha’s products are now sold in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States

In 2013 Kelly claimed that she had never had a real boyfriend as she felt potential suitors were only after her for money or to pitch business ideas. She also told The Guardian in a 2013 interview that she felt China’s economic boom had caused it to lose its soul.

We at hope Kelly finds both the man of her dreams and the spirituality she craves, but in the meantime, being the sole heir to one of the largest fortunes in the world should appease her, at least for now.



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