China’s millionaire machine slows

China’s millionaire machine has slowed, suggesting that the country’s economic weakness is reaching the top of the economy.

China’s millionaire population grew 3.6 percent last year, adding 100,000 millionaires and bringing its total millionaire count to 2.9 million, according a new report by the Chinese wealth website Hurun. The growth rate marks a sudden slowdown from the double-digit millionaire growth in China in recent years.

By contrast, the U.S. added 640,000 millionaires last year, bringing its total to 9.63 million, according to Spectrem Group. Spectrem defines millionaires as households with investible assets of $1 million or more. 

A man exercises in front of residential buildings along the Shing Mun River in the Sha Tin area of Hong Kong, China.

Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man exercises in front of residential buildings along the Shing Mun River in the Sha Tin area of Hong Kong, China.

The number of Chinese worth $16 million or more grew 4 percent to 67,000, according to the report from Hurun and the Industrial Bank. 

Of the 100,000 new millionaires, 30,000 were in Shanghai, 17,000 in Guangdong and 15,000 in Beijing. Beijing still has the most millionaires in China, with 490,000, according to the report.

The report also looked at the health and hobbies of Chinese millionaires. It said the overall “spiritual satisfaction” of Chinese millionaires is relatively high, while the richer millionaires show even higher degrees of satisfaction.

But China’s notorious pollution levels are reaching the penthouses: 87 percent of Chinese millionaires are dissatisfied with pollution levels.

Chinese millionaires spend an average of three hours a week exercising, with jogging, badminton and swimming listed as their top three forms of exercise.

Richest self-made billionaires in Asia

Patrik Stollarz | AFP | Getty Images

They read an average of 10 hours a week, but richer millionaires read 15 hours a week.

“Chinese millionaires are setting aside more time than I expected towards reading and learning, as well as exercise,” said Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

The top three hobbies of the Chinese rich are fine dining, travel and exercise. Millionaires traveled an average of once a year and spent an average of $10,000.

—By CNBC’s Robert Frank

China’s Super Rich to Rise By 80% in Next Decade

china wealthy

According to a report by Knight Frank LLP, the number of Chinese super-wealthy, those who own more than US$30 million in assets (excluding their main residence), will grow by 80 percent over the next decade , Global Times reports.

China will have over 14,200 ultra-wealthy individuals by 2024, which will rank China 13th in the world in terms of the number of multi-millionaires. This would place Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing as third, fifth, and sixth, respectively, as the cities with the most ultra-wealthy people.

According to Thomas Lam, the head of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, “The Chinese mainland will have a growing presence on the list. And Hong Kong will enjoy the advantage of being the unofficial bridge that connects the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world in the next decade.”

The rise of the super-wealthy in China is also driving up the prices of luxury real estate both in China and abroad. In fact, high-end residences in Beijing increased in price 17 percent in 2013 to reach US$17,100 per square foot after only a 2 percent gain in 2012.

The high-end real estate boom has also carried over into international markets. According to Knight Frank, China’s super-rich contributed 13 percent of the United States’ and 30 percent of Australia’s inbound capital to each country’s property development markets in 2013.

“The economic meltdown in 2008 and 2009 dealt a hard blow to high-end residential and commercial properties in North America and the UK,” said Thomas Lam. “While a buyer needs to pay 70,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan per square meter for prime office space in Beijing, he only has to pay 30,000 yuan to 40,000 for a similar property in the US or Europe. That motivates multi-millionaires to buy abroad.”

So far, the Chinese real estate investments are concentrated in second-tier foreign cities such as Houston, Texas and Birmingham, England. The only thing holding back these investors is a lack of understanding of local property markets and laws, and many of these Chinese investors are looking for foreign partners for assistance in these areas.