SINGAPORE: China accounted for the greatest number of new entrants on Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires, with 76 billionaires making it to the ranking for the first time, the business magazine announced on Monday (Mar 20).
A total of 2,043 billionaires made the list this year, 233 more compared to 2016 - the biggest jump in 31 years.
They have a collective net worth of US$7.67 trillion, up from US$6.48 trillion in 2016, Forbes said.
The top of the list remained unchanged - Microsoft founder Bill Gates led the rankings for the fourth year running with a fortune of US$86 billion, while Warren Buffett, worth US$75.6 billion, reclaimed the number two spot from Amancio Ortega of Spanish clothing chain Zara.
But while the United States continues to be the country with the single greatest number of billionaires - 565 of them - China is catching up with 319.
The Asia-Pacific accounts for the most billionaires as a region - 720 of them.
The richest man in Asia is Dalian Wanda's Wang Jianlin, ranked 18th with a net worth of US$31.3 billion. Just one spot below is Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, with a net worth of US$31.2 billion. Alibaba Group's Jack Ma clocked in at number 23 on the list, with US$28.3 billion.
Also on the list are 15 new self-made women, all but one of whom are from Asia-Pacific, Forbes said. They include 10 from China as well as Vietnam's first female billionaire, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who took her budget airline VietJet Air public in February.
Goh Cheng Liang, who holds a 39 per cent stake in Japan's Nippon Paint Holdings, remains Singapore's richest man with a net worth of US$6.5 billion and a ranking of 219 on the Forbes list. The Kwee family, which attribute most of their wealth to real estate, have a net worth of US$5.1 billion. They are the 315th richest in the world.
Also on the list is veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw, who has a net worth of US$5 billion, as well as Hong Leong Group chairman Kwek Leng Beng, with a net worth of US$2.7 billion. The chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank is number 324 on the list, while Mr Kwek comes in at number 745.