This is Shenzhen. It’s where some 113 billionaires live — that’s more billion-dollar residents than any city in the US.
Once a small farming town, Shenzhen underwent a massive transformation in the last few decades to become one of the most prosperous cities in China. So prosperous, in fact, that it’s the city where the most billionaires live — after two other Chinese megacities, Beijing and Shanghai, which are home to 144 and 121 residents respectively.
“There’s a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the city. People come for one purpose — to get rich, to make money,” Gu Qingyang, an economist and professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told Insider. Gu, who is educated in Singapore and China, conducts extensive research on the Chinese economy and policy.
While Forbes ranks New York City, the financial center of the US, as having the most billionaire residents in the world, it’s a statistic that’s widely disputed.
According to the Hurun Global Rich List, an annual ranking by Chinese private company Hurun, Shenzhen had pipped NYC as the city of choice for the ultra-rich. The list states there were 110 billionaires living in New York City as of January 14 — three less than Shenzhen.
Shenzhen’s rise to become a hub for the super-rich was many years in the making, Gu said, adding that it was the first city in China to open up to reform and introduce a market economy.
Shenzhen became China’s first Special Economic Zone in 1980. This meant tax exemptions, land subsidies, and more control in operating private businesses, which led to several companies — and entrepreneurs — becoming billion-dollar rich.