Billionaires were probably not part of the plan for the founders of the Chinese Communist party. Nevertheless, extraordinary economic growth has meant that more than 1,000 of its citizens had fortunes worth more than $1bn this year, according to one measure – the first time any country has achieved that mark.
Under Xi Jinping, China’s patience with the ultra-wealthy has now run out, with the president pursuing a “common prosperity” agenda to tackle inequality – humbling some of the world’s richest people and triggering them into a flood of donations.
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once taught English as his job but, after amassing his internet tech fortune, he became fond of pontificating on the billionaire Davos circuit. However, in November China’s regulators blocked the stock market listing of Ant Group, a financial firm spun off from retail and technology parent Alibaba. Ma briefly disappeared from view after the blow.