NEW DELHI: China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in 25 years. The country’s manufacturing sector -- the largest employer -- is contracting. The stock market turmoil has wiped out the savings of many Chinese, and sent shockwaves across the world. Yet, the country’s billionaires, are getting richer, and richer.

The annual Global Rich List published by Shanghai-based research firm Hurun shows the number of dollar billionaires in China exceeds the United States for the first time. China has 568 billionaires, while the US has 535. Together, China and the US account for half the world’s billionaires.

Further, the combined wealth of China’s billionaires is a massive 1.4 trillion USD -- this, as the Global Post points out, is equivalent to the size of the entire Australian economy.

Despite the economic turmoil, China has somehow managed to produce 90 new billionaires in the last one year. This is more than any other country. The Global Rich List report attributes this to stock market listings.

As a result of this, Beijing has replaced New York as the Billionaire Capital of the world -- with 100 billionaires, opposed to New York’s 95. Five Chinese cities have made the top ten in terms of number of resident billionaires -- Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou.

In some good news though, China leads the number of self-made women, with a staggering 93 of 124 self-made women billionaires in the world.

The trend of growing billionaires is not unique to China. Despite the global economic slowdown, the number of billionaires has risen 2188 -- a new record, and up 99 from last record.

India comes in at third place, adding 14 billionaires to last year’s tally, with 111 total billionaires. India’s e-commerce maharajas, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal of Flipkart, were amongst the new entrants.

The total wealth of the world’s billionaires jumped 9 percent to 7.3 trillion USD, more than the combined GDP of Germany and the United Kingdom.

These staggering numbers come not only as the economy is slowing down, but also as income disparity widens. Just 62 of the richest people have the same amount of wealth as half of humanity, revealed a new Oxfam report released in January.

The report, titled An Economy for the 1%, shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of 41 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile, the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality – of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just nine are women.

Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months, Oxfam says. The organisation’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 - a year earlier than expected.

(Credit: Oxfam report)