China leads the way as world’s billionaires get even richer

Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion. Above, the central business district in Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2018
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China leads the way as world’s billionaires get even richer

  • Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion
  • Self-made billionaires have driven 80 percent of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years

ZURICH: China produced around two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount, a report said Friday.
Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its “greatest-ever” increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to $8.9 trillion shared among 2,158 individuals, said the report by Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC.
But Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at nearly double that pace, growing by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion.
“Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards,” said Josef Stadler, head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.
“But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”
The report said China minted two new billionaires a week in 2017, among more than three a week created in Asia.
In the Americas region, the wealth of billionaires increased at a slower rate of 12 percent, to $3.6 trillion, with the United States creating 53 new billionaires in 2017 compared to 87 five years ago.
Currency appreciation saw European billionaires’ wealth grow 19 percent although the number of billionaires rose by just 4.0 percent to 414.
Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent’s wealth expansion, the study said.
It warned of lower economic growth in the United States and China if the trade war between the two countries escalates.
“US and Asia ex-Japan equities could fall by 20 percent from their mid-summer 2018 levels.”
For China’s young billionaires “the country’s fundamentals of a huge population and rising technology will continue to offer fertile conditions for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” the study said.
It there were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2006.
“Today, only 30 years after the country’s government first allowed private enterprise, they number 373 – nearly one in five of the global total.”
It said 97 percent of them are self-made, many of them in sectors such as technology and retail.
Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs.
“In 2017, they equaled America’s level of venture capital funding for start-ups, registered four times as many Artificial-Intelligence-related patents and three times as many blockchain and crypto-related patents as their US counterparts.”
Ravi Raju, head of Asia Pacific Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, said Asia’s billionaires “are young and relentless. They are constantly transforming their companies, developing new business models and shifting rapidly into new sectors.”
The report said that globally, self-made billionaires have driven 80 percent of the 40 main breakthrough innovations over the last 40 years.


Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

A father had to pull his son from the jaws of a dingo after it had dragged the sleeping toddler from a camper van on Australia's popular Fraser Island. (Reuters)
Updated 6 min 39 sec ago
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Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

  • Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory

SYDNEY: A dingo dragged a sleeping toddler from a camper van on a popular Australian holiday island late on Thursday, but his father awoke and pulled his 14-month-old son from the jaws of the dog-like dingo.
"The parents woke up to the baby screaming and chased after him and had to fight the dingoes off to take the 14-month-old boy away," paramedic Ben Du Toit told local media on Friday.
The boy suffered head and neck injuries in the attack on Fraser Island off the northeast coast and was taken to hospital.
Australia's dingo is a protected species on Fraser Island and are a popular attraction for camping tourists. The latest dingo attack was the third this year on Fraser Island.
In 1980 baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from a tent in a camping ground in Australia's outback, with her mother claiming she was taken by a dingo. The baby's body was never found, creating a mystery that captivated Australians for years and was made into a book and a film with Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.
Azaria's mother Lindy was jailed for three years over her daughter's death before later being cleared, but it wasn't until 2012 that a court ruled that a dingo killed Azaria.
Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, they are a declared pest species.
Dingoes hold a significant place in the spiritual and cultural practices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Fraser Island's dingo population is estimated to be around 200, with packs of up to 30 dogs roaming the island, according to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
The department warns that generally dingoes go about their lives and stay clear of people. "From time to time, dingoes may come close and some encounters can turn to tragedy," a statement on the department's website warns. "Stay alert and stay calm."