Beijing has more billionaires than any other city in the world after bouncing back quickly from Covid-19, according to the Forbes’ 2021 World’s Billionaires List.

With 100 billionaires on the annual list, China’s capital narrowly beat New York City’s 99 entrants, which has previously held the top spot for seven years running.

Since the list was last published in 2020, Beijing added 33 billionaires, according to the business magazine.

The country’s quick response to and containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the rise of its technology firms and stock markets, helped it gain the number one spot. China was the only major world economy to grow at all last year. 

The richest person in Beijing was Zhang Yiming, the founder of video-sharing app TikTok, and the CEO of its parent firm ByteDance (pictured)

But while Beijing has more billionaires than New York City, the combined net worth of those hosted by the US city is £58 billion greater than their Beijing counterparts.

The richest person in Beijing was Zhang Yiming, the founder of video-sharing app TikTok, and the CEO of its parent firm ByteDance. He saw his net worth double to $35.6 billion from 2020, as the app’s popularity exploded.

Meanwhile former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York’s richest resident, had a fortune worth $59 billion.  

China and the US have both seen their technology giants grow even bigger during the pandemic as people shopped online more and used the internet for sources of at-home entertainment.

As a result, the personal wealth of the founders of shareholders in tech giants providing online services has increased hugely during the pandemic.

China, with Hong Kong and Macao included in its count, added more billionaires to the Forbes list than any other country, with 210 new comers.

A quarter of the 2,755 billionaires on Forbes’ list live in just 10 cities, with 10 percent residing in just four Chinese cities.

The ten cities that are home to a quarter of the world’s billionaires are: Beijing (100); New York City (99), Hong Kong (80); Moscow (79); Shenzen (68); Shanghai (64); London (63); Mumbai and San Francisco (48); Hangzhou (47).

The four Chinese cities on the list – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and newcomer Hangzhou, which knocked Singapore off the list – added 96 billionaires in total. 

Pictured: A man stands near a giant sign of Chinese company ByteDance’s app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, during China Fashion Week, in Beijing, China March 31, 2021

Pictured: Beijing (stock image). With 100 billionaires on Forbes’ annual list, China’s capital narrowly beat New York City’s 99 entrants, which has previously held the top spot for seven years running


1. Beijing: 100 billionaires

2. New York City: 99 billionaires

3. Hong Kong: 80 billionaires

4. Moscow: 79 billionaires

5. Shenzen: 68 billionaires

6. Shanghai: 64 billionaires

7. London: 63 billionaires

8. (tie) Mumbai: 48 billionaires

8. (tie) San Francisco: 48 billionaires

10. Hangzhou: 47 billionaires  

Half of China’s new billionaires made their fortunes from technology and manufacturing ventures. Those that did included female billionaire Kate Wang, who made her money from e-cigarettes. 

In terms of billionaires by country, China – with its 698 billionaires – is closing in on the US in top-spot with its 724 billionaires. 

China – the country where Covid first emerged and which has been accused of covering up its early spread, leading to the pandemic – has seen its economy boom while the rest of the world’s finances have been hammered by the disease. 

The country was the only major world economy to grow at all last year, with GDP up by 2.3 per cent. The US shrank 3.7 per cent, Germany was down 5 per cent, and the UK by 11 per cent. 

That growth helped create new billionaires, with Zhong Shanshan of bottled water giant Nongfu leading the pack – becoming China’s richest man after overtaking Jack Ma, who fell foul of Chinese leadership over the last 12 months.

Shanshan is worth an estimated $68.9 billion after his drinks brand – which sells tea, coffee and juices as well as red-labeled bottles of water – went public. 

Zhong, a former construction worker, made his cash following a $1.1 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong last year.

Meanwhile a clampdown on ecommerce giant Alibaba saw tycoon Jack Ma fall down the pecking order. 

The one-time darling of China’s entrepreneurs came under pressure from regulators, who have reigned in Alibaba and fintech arm Ant Group on anti-trust issues.     

A clampdown on ecommerce giant Alibaba saw tycoon Jack Ma (pictured in 2019) fall down the pecking order of China’s billionaires last year

China, the country where Covid first emerged, was the only major world economy to record growth last year while others were hammered trying to deal with the pandemic

A record-breaking 2,755 billionaires now make up Forbes’ annual list, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos top of the pile for the fourth consecutive year.

This year’s billionaires are worth a combined $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion last year, according to Forbes, meaning overall they saw their combined wealth soar by $5.1 trillion in the past 12 months.

The number of billionaires on the list of the world’s richest people grew by 660 people in 2020, Forbes said – a record increase – meaning there are now more billionaires on the planet than ever.

And overall, 86 percent of the people on the list are more wealthy than they were last year, Forbes said.

There were 493 newcomers on the list as well, meaning a new billionaire was minted once every 17 hours since the last list was published.

The ranks of the ultra-wealthy are expanding after a year in which the coronavirus pandemic upended world economies and threatened the livelihoods of people across the globe.

At No. 1, Amazon’s Bezos clocked in at a staggering $177B, cementing his spot as the wealthiest billionaire on the list.  

Elon Musk, the boss of electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, zoomed into the No. 2 spot with $151 billion. Tesla stock is up more than 560 percent over the past year, helping put a motor under Musk’s worth.  

Jeff Bezos had a staggering $177B, cementing his spot as the wealthiest billionaire on the list. Pictured in Mumbai, India, on Jan. 16, 2020, with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez

Top 10 wealthiest people on the Forbes billionaire list 

1. Jeff Bezos (U.S.) – $177Billion; Amazon founder and CEO 

2. Elon Musk (U.S.) – $151Billion; Tesla’s chief executive

3. Bernard Arnault (France) – $150Billion; chief executive of luxury goods firm LVMH

4. Bill Gates (U.S.) – $124Billion; Microsoft founder

5. Mark Zuckerberg (U.S.) – $97Billion; Facebook chief executive

6. Warren Buffett (U.S.) – $96Billion; Investor and business tycoon

7. Larry Ellison (U.S.) – $93Billion; Chairman, chief technology officer and cofounder of software giant Oracle

8. Larry Page (U.S.) – $91.5Billion; Co-founder of Google, controlling shareholder

9.  Sergey Brin (U.S.)  – $89Billion; Co-founder of Google, controlling shareholder

10. Mukesh Ambani (India)- $84.5Billion; Chairman, managing director of Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable company by market value 

For comparison, the median net worth in the U.S. is $121,411, according to Federal Reserve data. Median means half the country is worth more and half is worth less.  

Bezos’ wealth grew by $63B as Amazon capitaized on the surge in demand for online shopping during the pandemic, while Musk’s wealth jumped a staggering $125.5B, taking him from 31st place last year to second in 2021. 

Furthermore, forty people became billionaires in 2021 due to their business activities fighting the coronavirus pandemic, according to Forbes. 

Of the 40 people on the list of ‘Covid billionaires’, 14 people are from China, widely believed to be where SARS-CoV-2 originated from meaning it was the first to require PPE and other equipment, with another person from Hong Kong. 

Some on the list, such as such as Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and BioNTech cofounder Uğur Şahin, have become household names in the last year thanks to the vaccines their firms have helped to develop.  

Others made their billions from making protective equipment (PPE), testing equipment, antibody treatments, software that assists vaccination campaigns and the infrastructure and packaging needed to deliver such products – all of which are essential for nations to fight Covid-19, save lives, and reopen their economies.

As a group, the 40 new additions to the list now have a combined wealth of around $78 billion, according to Forbes’ figures. 

Li Jianquan, the president of Chinese medical products manufacturer Winner Medical, is the richest of the 40 new Covid-billionaires.  

His company increased the production of masks and medical overalls supplied to front-line medical workers across the globe.

Winner Medical’s Initial public offering (IPO) on the Shenzhen stock market instantly made the 64-year-old Jianquan, based inHong Kong, a multi-billionaire thanks to his 68 percent stake in the company, now worth $6.8 billion.

In the case of some vaccine companies, their success over the past year has resulted in multiple billionaires being created within the same company. 

Four new entrants are from Moderna, and another four are from Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics, which saw its one-shot vaccine approved by Chinese regulators in February this year.

Those at companies that are mass-producing vaccines have also seen large windfalls, as have people within research firms that have helped run clinical trials.

While markets collapsed due to the pandemic, some businesses capitalized on the need for medical equipment and data, coronavirus tests, vaccines, and the required infrastructure. Pictured: a shipment from Europe of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 into a refrigerated delivery truck at Toronto Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada March 24, 2021

Such activities have created new fortunes for people such as Juan López-Belmonte López of Spanish pharma outfit Rovi and Karin Sartorius-Herbst and Ulrike Baro of German biopharma firm Sartorius AG.

Three professors – Timothy Springer of Harvard Medical School, Carl Hansen of the University of British Columbia and Robert Langer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – also made the list, thanks to their stakes in vaccine companies or founding of biotech firms.

Timothy Springer is a professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, and was a founding investor in Moderna, whose vaccine has been approved for use in the US, Canada, UK, European Union, Israel and Singapore.

He has a 3.5 percent stake in Moderna, while Prof. Langer has a 3 percent stake in, and also helped found it in 2010, while Prof. Hansen is the founder and CEO of Canadian biotech firm AbCellera.

Stock prices from March 5 were used to calculate net worth, Forbes said.          

The 40 new billionaires who got rich fighting coronavirus

1. Li Jianquan & family (Hong Kong) – $6.8 Billion; Winner Medical Consumer products

2. Stéphane Bancel (France) – $4.3 Billion; CEO of Moderna Moderna

3. Liu Fangyi (China) – $4.2 Billion; founder and chairman of Intco Medical 

4. Uğur Şahin (Germany) – $4 Billion; CEO & Co-founder of BioNTech 

5. Yuan Liping (Canada) – $3.6 Billion; 24% stake in Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products – Pharmaceuticals

6. Hu Kun (China) – $2.5 Billion; Contec Medical Systems – Medical equipment

7. Chen Xiao Ying (China) – $2.4 Billion; Investor in Alibaba Health Information Technology – Health Information

8. Dai Lizhong (China) $2.4 Billion; Chariman of Sansure Biotech – Medical testing

9. Karin Sartorius-Herbst (Germany) – $2.4 Billion; Stake in Sartorius group, pharmaceutical & laboratory equipment supplier – Bio-pharmaceuticals

10. Ulrike Baro (Germany) – $1.5 Billion; Stake in Sartorius group – bio-pharmaceuticals

11. Timothy Springer (United States) – $2.2 Billion; Professor & founding investor in Moderna, 3.5% stake – Biotech

12. Gong Yingying (China) – $2.1 Billion; Founder & chairwoman of Yidu Tech – Health IT

13. Weng Xianding (China) – $2.1 Billion; Majority shareholder, Shenzhen New Industries Biological Engineering – Medical devices

14. Rao Wei & family (China) – $1.2 Billion; Chairman, Shenzhen New Industries Biological Engineering – Pharmaceuticals

15. Sergio Stevanato (Italy) – $1.9 Billion; Majority owner & chairman, Stevanato Group – Medical Packaging

16. Noubar Afeyan (United States) – $1.9 Billion; Chairman & co-founder of Moderna – Biotech

17. Carl Hansen (Canada) – $1.8 Billion; Founder & CEO of Canadian biotech firm AbCellera – Biotech

18. Juan López-Belmonte López & family (Spain) – $1.8 Billion; Chairs Spanish pharma company Rovi – Pharmaceuticals

19. John Oyler (United States) – $1.8 Billion; CEO & co-founder of Beijing-based drugmaker BeiGene – Biotech

20. Robert Langer (United States) – $1.6 Billion; 3% stake in Moderna, helped start in 2010 – Biotech

21. Ren Jinsheng & family (China) – $1.5 Billion; Founder & chairman of Simcere Pharmaceutical Group – Pharmaceuticals

22. Arvind Lal (India) – $1.5 Billion; Executive chairman of Indian diagnostics chain Dr. Lal PathLabs – Medical Diagnostics

23. Prathap Reddy (India) – $1.5 Billion; Founder & chairman of Indian hospital chain Apollo Hospitals Group – Healthcare

24. August Troendle (United States) – $1.5 Billion; CEO & founder of Cincinnati-based contract research firm Medpace – Pharmaceutical Services

25. Liang Yaoming (China( – $1.4 Billion; Chair of testing company Guangzhou Kingmed Diagnostics Group – Diagnostics

26. Itaru Tanimura (Japan) – $1.4 Billion; Founder of Tokyo-based online medical services provider M3 – Healthcare

27. Keith Dunleavy & family (United States) – $1.4 Billion; Founder of cloud-based healthcare data analytics outfit Inovalon – Health IT

28. Alan Miller & family (United States) – $1.3 Billion; Founder & executive chairman of healthcare services provider Universal Health Services – Healthcare services

29. Cao Xiaochun (China) – $1.3 Billion; Cofounder & director of pharmaceutical contract research outfit Hangzhou Tigermed Consultin – Pharmaceuticals

30. Xiong Jun & family (China) – $1.3 Billion; Chair bio-pharma company Shanghai Junshi Biosciences – Pharmaceuticals

31. Zhu Tao (China) – $1.3 Billion; Cofounder of Tianjin-based vaccine manufacturer CanSino Biologics – Pharmaceuticals

32. Qiu Dongxu (Canada) – $1.2 Billion; Cofounder of Tianjin-based vaccine manufacturer CanSino Biologics – Pharmaceuticals

33. Yu Xuefeng (Canada) – $1.2 Billion; Cofounder of Tianjin-based vaccine manufacturer CanSino Biologics – Pharmaceuticals

34. Mao Huihua (Canada) – $1 Billion; Cofounder of Tianjin-based vaccine manufacturer CanSino Biologics – Pharmaceuticals

35. Premchand Godha (India) – $1.2 Billion; Chair of Mumbai-based generic drug manufacturer Ipca Labs – Pharmaceuticals

36. Feng Yuxia (China) – $1.1 Billion; President of Beijing-based contract research organization JOINN Laboratories – Pharmaceuticals

37. Li Wenmei & family (China) – $1.1 Billion; Co-founder & general manager of diagnostic test supplier Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech – Medical equipment

38. M.Satyanarayana Reddy (India) – $1.1 Billion; Founder & chairman of Hyderabad-based drugmaker MSN Group – Pharmaceuticals

39. Jack Schuler (United States) – $1.1 Billion; 7% stake in diagnostic firm Quidel Corp – Pharmaceuticals

40. Yu De-Chao (United States) – $1 Billion; Cofounder & chairman of Chinese biopharma outfit Innovent Biologics – Pharmaceuticals

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