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%.

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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.

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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.

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