Four companies from China occupy the top five places on the latest list of the world's largest unicorn startups. Overall, China had the second most unicorns, or companies that have market valuations of more than $1 billion, according to the Hurun Report.

The U.S. was first with 233 unicorn companies. China had 227. China and the U.S. account for about 79 percent of the world's 586 existing unicorn companies, according to the 2020 Hurun Global Unicorn Index published by the Hurun Research Institute. The valuations of the companies on the list were based on values recorded at the end of March.

Hurun Report's chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said in a statement Tuesday that China and the U.S. continued to dominate the list. This is impressive because together both countries represent about 40 percent only of the world's gross domestic product and have around a quarter of its population.

The China companies in the top five include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s digital financial services arm Alipay. It was No. 1 with a valuation of $150 billion. In second place is TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd., with a valuation of $80 billion. Following these are ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co. with a valuation of $55 billion and financial technology outfit Lufax Holding with a valuation of $38 billion. Elon Musk's U.S. space transport services company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, rounded out the leaders with a valuation of $36 billion.

Hoogewerf said other countries needed to step up to make their economies suitable for unicorns. The combined value of the world's existing unicorns now tops around $1.9 trillion, or roughly the entire GDP of Italy, according to the Hurun Research report.

The privately held research company said most of the unicorns on its list were relatively young at an average age of nine years. Most amassed their value mainly as a result of their disruptive technologies and innovative products and services. They have attracted billions of dollars in investment from companies worldwide.  

For China, the report is a reassurance of the effectiveness of its efforts to help the growth of multimillion-dollar companies - particularly in the high-technology sectors such as artificial intelligence, biotech, robotics, autonomous driving and big data. It also shows how China has managed to close the gap with the U.S. in being home to the world's most innovative companies.