BEIJING: The number of super-rich in China continues to grow, with more than 17,000 people holding assets worth at least 500m yuan.

A report published by the Hurun Research Institute, in conjunction with China Minsheng Bank – China Ultra High Net Wealth Report 2014-2015 – said the numbers had reached a record level, and this after the criteria for entry into the select group had been changed.

"We raised the threshold of the report to 500m yuan ($81.35m), a new high," explained Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun Research Institute. "Still, the number of China ultra-high net-wealth people this year is much more than in previous years," he said in remarks reported by China Daily.

He attributed this to China's economic development and the recovery of its stock market.

The total assets of the super rich now total some 31 trillion yuan, or ten times the GDP or Norway, 20 times that of the Philippines. Average assets held amount to 1.82bn yuan.

The report also said that the average age of an ultra-high net-wealth individual was 51 years and they were most likely to be entrepreneurs, property developers or professional investors.

The first group were most likely to have earned their money in manufacturing and to own listed companies. And over half (55%) live in second and third tier cities rather than top tier ones like Beijing or Shanghai.

The report also highlighted the finding that 45% of ultra high net wealth individuals liked to invest in jewellery and jade, while 29% preferred collecting calligraphy and paintings.

Despite their growing number, some observers believe that the future for luxury brands in China lies elsewhere – with the moderately wealthy.

Citing a study by Citi bank, Jing Daily reported that this group regards itself as more middle class than wealthy and is likely to be well disposed towards charities and to have a social conscience.

Data sourced from China Daily, Jing Daily; additional content by Warc staff