Beijing has surpassed New York City to become the new billionaire capital of the world

beijing china
For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than NYC.

The world officially has a new billionaire capital. For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than New York City, according to Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List for 2021.

The Chinese capital gained 33 new billionaires in 2020, bringing its total to 100 billionaires and just edging out New York City’s 99 billionaires, per Forbes. The Big Apple added only seven new billionaires in the same time span. In terms of total population, New York City is about 40% of the size of Beijing, with a population of 8.4 million versus Beijing’s roughly 21 million.

Beijing’s richest resident is Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok parent company ByteDance, who’s worth $35.6 billion. In New York City, ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg is the wealthiest, with a net worth of $59 million.

TikTok founder Zhang Yiming
TikTok founder Zhang Yiming is Beijing’s richest resident, with a $35.6 billion net worth.

The US has long been home to more billionaires than any other country in the world, but China has been catching up. China and Hong Kong have minted 210 new billionaires in the past year, more than any other nation, according to the Forbes report.

Five Chinese cities rank among the 10 cities with the most billionaires, including special administrative region Hong Kong in third place with 80 billionaires, Shenzhen in fifth with 68, and Shanghai in sixth place with 64.

The only other US city to make the list was San Francisco, ranked eighth with 48 billionaires.

The world’s ultra-wealthy got even richer last year despite a pandemic and economic recessions. Globally, 660 people became new billionaires, bringing the world total to 2,755 billionaires worth a collective $13.1 trillion, per Forbes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gap between the world’s billionaires and everybody else. In the US, for example, billionaires grew 44% richer in the pandemic, Lina Batarags recently reported for Insider. In the same time period, 80 million Americans lost their jobs and nearly 8 million slipped into poverty.

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The US is talking to allies about boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics over genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

A Chinese flag flutters in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest by activists of the International Tibet Network against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Februay 3, 2021 in Lausanne.

  • The US and its allies are discussing a possible boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
  • “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” the State Department said on Tuesday.
  • China is facing growing backlash over what’s widely considered to be genocide against the Uyghurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US is considering a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, the US State Department said Tuesday.

“It is something that we certainly wish to discuss,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners.”

“This is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward,” Price added, making clear that a final decision has not been made.

In a later statement to Yahoo Sports, an unnamed State Department official stressed that no such talks have yet taken place. “We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners,” the official said.

The US government has been ramping up criticism of and pressure on the Chinese government over human rights violations, which led to a public spat between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat in Alaska last month.

The Biden administration in late March slapped new sanctions on Chinese officials over what the Treasury Department described as serious human-rights abuse against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The EU, the UK, and Canada – in coordination with the US – have also hit China with sanctions over its treatment of the Uyghurs.

Human rights groups say the Chinese government has forced over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in the Xinjiang region, though Beijing has vehemently denied the allegations.

Blinken has said what’s happening to the Uyghurs amounts to genocide, while calling on China to release “all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities.”

There have been growing calls for countries and companies to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Human rights lawyer Djaouida Siaci told Axios that a boycott could open the door for the International Criminal Court to begin an investigation into the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in a New York Times op-ed last month said the US should engage in a diplomatic and economic boycott of the 2020 Beijing Olympics.

“Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022,” Romney said.

“The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators – other than families of our athletes and coaches – should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets,” Romney added. “American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.”

The last time the US boycotted the Olympics was during the 1980 summer games in Moscow.

The US Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Photos show Beijing glowing yellow in the worst sandstorm for a decade: ‘It looks like the end of the world’

Beijing sandstorm
A woman walks along a pedestrian bridge amid a sandstorm during the morning rush hour in Beijing, March 15, 2021.

  • Photos show Beijing glowing yellow as the city is hit by a huge sandstorm.
  • The China Meteorological Administration called it the biggest sandstorm in a decade.
  • Air pollution levels are dangerously high and many flights have been canceled.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Chinese capital of Beijing was covered in yellow haze on Monday as it was blanketed in a huge sandstorm that caused widespread disruption and spiking air pollution levels.

Photos showed the city glowing yellow and buildings obscured as winds blew sand into the city:

A Beijing road during a sandstorm on March 15 2021.

The China Meteorological Administration said on Monday that sandstorms had reached provinces across northern China, including Hebei – the province that surrounds Beijing – after they already hit Inner Mongolia.

The sand is being blown in from the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia, Reuters reported.

China sandstorm
A sandstorm enveloping Beijing on March 15, 2021.

The Air Quality Index gave the city a “hazardous” 999 rating on Monday, which means “everyone may experience more serious health effects” and that “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.”

In comparison, Tokyo, Japan, was given a “good” rating of 42, London, England, was given a “good” rating of 30, and Manhattan, New York, was given a “moderate” rating of 51.

Some flights in and out of Beijing have also been grounded as a result of the sandstorm: Around a fifth of flights coming and going from Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport were cancelled as of midday on Monday, Reuters reported.

China sandstorm
A woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus stands against the China Central Television (CCTV) building as capital city is hit by polluted air and a sandstorm in Beijing, Monday, March 15, 2021.

Flora Zou, who lives in Beijing, told Reuters: “It looks like the end of the world.”

“In this kind of weather I really, really don’t want to be outside,” she said.

Sandstorms typically occur in Beijing at this time of year.

But the China Meteorological Administration called this one the biggest in a decade, Reuters reported.

China sandstorm
A sandstorm hits Beijing, China, March 15, 2021.

The Guardian reported that levels of PM2.5 air pollution particles were above 600 micrograms in some parts of the city.

The particles can get into the lungs, and the World Health Organization recommends average daily concentrations of just 25.

The WHO says that the particles “can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the blood system” and that “chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.”

Reuters noted that deforestation in China has helped soil erosion, making events like sandstorms worse.

China has been trying to plant more trees to slow this erosion, and to trap sand and dust being blown in from nearby deserts.

Beijing sandstorm
A man walks on a street during a sandstorm in the financial district in Beijing on March 15, 2021.

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