China now has the most billionaires despite the country's economic slowdown, stock market plunge and crackdown on corruption, according to a China-based wealth research firm.
The Hurun Report said China now has 568 billionaires versus the United States' 535, giving it the largest population of billionaires in the world.
According to Hurun, China's billionaire population first surpassed the U.S. in August, and grew by a total of 90 last year.
Granted Hurun's numbers are subject to some debate, as they differ from those of Forbes and other wealth research firms, which still put the U.S. far ahead of China when it comes to billionaires. According to Forbes' 2015 China report, China has 335 billionaires compared with 536 in the U.S.
Worldwide, Hurun said there are now 2,188 billionaires, up 99 from 2014 and marking a new record. Yet it said billionaire growth globally is slowing along with the economy. The total wealth of the world's billionaires grew 9 percent in 2015 to $7.3 trillion — more than the combined GDPs of Germany and the U.K.
For the first time, Beijing has also passed New York as the billionaire capital of the world, 100 to 95, Hurun said.
"Despite its own slowdown and falling stockmarkets, China minted more new billionaires than any other country in the world last year, mainly on the back of new listings," said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.
Hoogewerf couldn't be reached for comment on why Hurun's numbers differ from Forbes'. And determining people's personal wealth is hardly an exact science — especially in an economy as opaque as China's.
Yet he has previously told CNBC that if anything, Hurun's China count is low.
"For every billionaire that Hurun Report has found, I estimate we have missed at least two," he said last year.
"Some people deliberately make their wealth a secret because ... they gained it through illegal ways." he said. "Some others simply prefer to keep a low profile."
Hurun said the main source of wealth for China's billionaires is real estate, producing 117 billionaires. Manufacturing created 94 of their billionaires, while technology created 68.
The richest man in China was Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, with $26 billion.
The report said China has the largest number of billionaires under age 40, with 28. China also has the largest number of self-made women, with 93 of 124 self-made women billionaires worldwide, according to Hurun.
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