There are more millionaires in Mumbai than in Beijing

There are more millionaires in Mumbai than in Beijing

China is losing millionaires while India is gaining them, and now Mumbai has more millionaires than Beijing. The Guild of Business Leaders is not the most faithful measure of the health of the national economy, but it is not the worst either. A study conducted by the prestigious Chinese magazine Hurun highlights the turmoil of one and the magnificence of the other.

China still tops the ranking of the world's billionaires, with 814 billionaires compared to 800 billionaires in the United States, both of which represent 49% of the world's population. But the crisis, according to some, or the slowdown, according to others, caused 155 names to disappear from the previous census.

The expected post-epidemic recovery effect has not reached China. Evergrande's fall in 2021 has dragged down the real estate sector and its government admits it will be difficult to reach the 5% annual growth expected in the NPC. “It has been a bad year,” the report concludes. “Wealth creation has seen significant changes recently, with declines in housing and renewable energy sources.”

The arrangement of Chinese rulers reveals the transformation of the economic pattern. It is still headed by free-spirited Zhong Shanshan, founder of the bottled water empire Nongfu, but followed by representatives of the technology sector such as Colin Huang, head of Pinduoduo – the pioneering digital commerce company – or Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent.

Artificial intelligence, an industry that Beijing prioritizes, brings in several names, while bricks, which have monopolized the list for years, deepen their decline. The investments of Chinese financiers also reflect uncertainty in a sector that used to drive the Chinese economy and is now holding it back. Before that, it concentrated 70% of its capital; Stability is now being sought in gold reserves and bank deposits. The party is now in India. In the last quarter of last year, it recorded the fastest growth in the world at 8.4%, and its stock market toppled the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to seventh place in the world. It has 271 billionaires, a number far from the two superpowers, but an upward trend. In a development full of symbolism, Mumbai has displaced Beijing from its position as the center of wealth in Asia. The Chinese capital fell from first place to fourth place (91), and the largest Indian city (92) crossed the podium behind the representatives of the old geo-economic system: New York (119) and London (97).

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A detailed examination tells us about the social and economic pattern of what is already the world's premier demographic power. The pharmaceutical, chemicals and automobile components sectors contribute the bulk of wealth. At the same time, the small number of twenty women on the list reveals a patriarchal society with many outstanding duties.

India repeats China's sins. Forty years ago, Beijing embarked on an economic opening, and Deng Xiaoping, its architect, made clear that it would be inevitable that some would become rich before others. Jiang Zemin, his successor and the most liberal ever in Chinese history, relied on this warning, and in the following decades GDP expanded as much as social inequality. Beijing is now doing its best to reduce these rates and repeats the phrase “shared prosperity” like a mantra.

A sign of inequality

This was indicated by the Chinese official press in the days following the publication of the report. “India's proliferation of billionaires, far from a sign of success, serves as a painful reminder of the inequalities and disparities plaguing its society,” the Global Times editorial said. The arguments of the medium, under the umbrella of Diari del Poble, are irrefutable. Should a country that surpasses Bangladesh in per capita income, yet has so stubbornly failed to eradicate poverty, boast of being strong?

In 2021, when China stripped the United States of its top spot on the Hurun list, there were not voices in its official press warning of inequality, but rather overwhelming pride at the achievement of another milestone overcome in geopolitical conflict.

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