China minting billionaires at 'phenomenal' rate: Forbes

Reading into Forbes' billionaires list for 2014
Reading into Forbes' billionaires list for 2014

China's prominence on Forbes magazine's hotly watched annual rich list is one of the strongest trends this year, editor Randall Lane told CNBC on Tuesday.

China registered a record 152 billionaires in the 2014 list, up near 25 percent from 122 last year, while Hong Kong clocked up 45, said Forbes.

"That's probably the biggest trend coming out of here... we had a little over 30 newcomers just from mainland China," said Lane.

(Read more: China's billionaires got way richer in past year)

"Twenty years ago it was pretty much zero so the growth out of China has been phenomenal and it's increasing every year," he added.

While recent growth in the Chinese economy has been slower than in previous decades, it continues to outpace the U.S. economy, posting growth of 7.7 percent in 2013, over three times that of the U.S.

Wang Jianlin, China's richest person, ranks 64th on Forbes' global rich list with a net worth of $15.1 billion.

He owns 75 department stores, 85 shopping plazas and 51 five star hotels. He bought U.S. movie theater chain AMC Theatres in 2013, and listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in December. The billionaire also flew in celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and John Travolta to help launch an $8 billion mini-Hollywood in Qingdao in September, Forbes reported.

Lane Oatey | CNBC

Ma Huatent, CEO of publicly traded internet company Tencent Holdings, is China's second richest person and ranks 80th overall with a net worth of $13.4 billion.

Furthermore, a notable newcomer was the youngest billionaire Perenna Kei at age 24, from Hong Kong.

(Read more: China has a word for its crass new rich)

But despite China's surging number of billionaires, the U.S. remained home to the largest number of billionaires at 492, thanks to a strong performance in its stock market and a continued boom in its tech industry.

Meanwhile, Russia has the third largest number of billionaires at 111.

Regionally, Europe boasted the most billionaires outside of the U.S., with 468 billionaires, while Asia-Pacific was close behind with 444.

Women at the top

Another key trend to emerge from Forbes' research was that a record number of female billionaires made the list this year. The list included 172 women, up from 138 in 2013.

The U.S. had the most female billionaires, with 58, followed by Germany with 16 and Brazil with 14. Christy Walton - the widow of John T. Walton, one of the sons of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart -ranked 9th on Forbes' billionaire rankings, the richest women on the list, with a net worth of $36.7 billion.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, regained his crown as the richest person in the world after a four year hiatus. Gates has topped the list for 15 out of the past 20 years. He has a net worth of $76 billion, up from $67 billion in 2013.

(Read more: Rich Chinese continue to flee China)

Gates overtook telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who held the top position for the past four years, but lost $1 billion of his worth and is now valued at $72 billion.

The biggest net worth gainer was Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (ranked number 21), who more than doubled his fortune from $13.3 billion in 2013 to $28.5 billion as shares of his social network soared. WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton joined the billionaires list for the first time following their $19 billion deal with Facebook.

Forbes' 28th annual ranking of the world's richest saw a record number of billionaires at 1,645, up from 1,426 in 2013, with an average net worth of $4.7 billion, up from $4.2 billion last year. 1,080 members were self-made, 207 inherited their wealth and another 352 inherited at least a portion of it but are still growing it.

— By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie