Chinese President Xi Jinping has been named the fifth most powerful figure in the world in 2015 by Forbes magazine, dropping two places since 2014.

Xi’s US counterpart Barack Obama also fell slightly from second last year to third this year. Obama’s influence is “shrinking” as he faces more challenges at home in the final year of his term, Forbes said.

world's most powerful people
Xi Jinping was No. 5 on the most powerful people list. Photo: Forbes video screencap.

Xi and Obama were squeezed down on the list by the rise of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who shot up three spots from last year’s ranking to second place. Merkel, the “backbone” of the European Union, was hailed for her efforts in handling the Syrian refugee issue and the Greek debt crisis.

Forbes said Xi is China’s “most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.” The 62-year-old was celebrated for his corruption crackdown and “assertive public profile.”

Dominating the list for the third year in a row was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite international sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin’s domestic popularity continued to rise, Forbes said.

The US magazine ranked candidates according to four criteria: their power over people and money, whether they have power in different fields and whether they actively use their power.

world's most powerful people
China’s internet giants. Photo: HKFP.

Aside from Xi, five other mainland Chinese made it to the list of the world’s most powerful 73. They include heads of China’s three biggest internet giants known as “BAT’: Baidu’s Li Yanhong, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Tencent’s Ma Huateng. China’s richest man Wang Jianlin and Ding Xuedong, chairman of the country’s biggest sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, were also on the list.

Li Ka-shing
Li Ka-shing. File photo: StandNews.

Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing was ranked 31. Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, head of the World Health Organisation came in at 73.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.