Hong Kong Edges Out Singapore in Millionaire Wealth

The perennially competitive Asian city-states duke it out over which island is richer

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Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

A view of Hong Kong

For decades, the Asian city-states of Singapore and Hong Kong have competed to be recognized as Asia’s international business capital. In 2012, Hong Kong moved ahead of its Southeast Asian rival, at least in terms of millionaire wealth, according to a recent survey.

As Quartz reports, the RBC Wealth Management and Capegemini survey found that Hong Kong’s total wealth of individuals with more than $1 million in investable money was $560 billion last year while Singapore’s was nearly 9% less, at $489 billion. Meanwhile, both stock markets rose in 2012 with Singapore’s Straits Times Index increasing 18% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 20%.

(MORE: Asia’s Art-Fair Boom: Hong Kong and Singapore Compete for Cultural Top Slot)

The two-city states have vied for business capital and investment ever since Singapore’s economy began picking up in the 1980s with the growth of its high-tech sector. Last year Singapore trumped Hong Kong with more millionaire money by an estimated $30 billion on the same list. The Lion City also beat out Hong Kong last year in an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) research report commissioned by Citigroup. Taking the third spot on a list of most competitive cities worldwide (behind New York and London), Singapore was ranked higher than Hong Kong in its ability to attract capital, talent, tourists and businesses. It was also considered the most livable. However, Hong Kong wasn’t far behind, coming in fourth on the list.

(MORE: Pollution and Housing Top Agenda for Hong Kong’s Embattled Leader)

While both city-states have a large ethnically-Chinese population and are considered international and cosmopolitan, Hong Kong’s economy often relies on its Chinese roots for the influx of capital in property and retail sales. Singapore, on the other hand, remains economically independent from any motherland. (The former British territory located at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and annexed by Malaysia from 1963 to 1965, before regaining its independence on August 9, 1965.)

Though Singapore historically is recognized as more green, both Asian city-states are grappling with a severe pollution problem. The two are considered cultural capitals, have a high demand in the housing market, deal with limited land supply and continue to court Westerners both in tourism and business ventures.

MORE: ‘Made’ in China: The Millennials Look East for Jobs

1 comments
jccj88
jccj88

Courtney has got some facts wrong.

Firstly, the haze that swept through Singapore for about a week in late June is quite unlike the pollution problems that continue to plague Hong Kong. It's a problem that emanates from Indonesia, not a problem generated by poor environmental policies in the city-state. This year was particularly bad, but it's not always that way.

Secondly, Hong Kong is as much a "city-state" as London and New York. In short, it can't be considered a city-state simply because it is a part of China just as New York and London are territories of the US and UK respectively.

Thirdly, Singapore was NOT annexed by Malaysia from 1963-1965. Rather it opted to become a part of Malaysia in 1963, but was booted out in 1965 due to sharp differences in socio-economic-political ideals between the leader of the city - Lee Kuan Yew and his People's Action Party and the Federal government of Malaysia led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his UMNO party.

Hopefully, Time magazine can be less tardy in its future articles about the city-state