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10 Richest People In China And Why They’re Wealthy

KEY POINTS

  • China continues to house Forbes-approved rich entrepreneurs through the years
  • The wealthiest person in China, Zhong Shanshan, has a current net worth of $67.4 billion
  • Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance, is the youngest among the top 10 billionaires in China

China, one of the most prosperous countries, houses tons of billionaires, ranging from tech giants to technology innovators, automakers, and more. See the article : Elegance And Sensuality Grace Milan Fashion Week. The Red Dragon continues to give birth to mega-rich entrepreneurs through the years.

Here are the top 10 Chinese personalities who made it to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaire list in March 2023. Who are they, and why are they on the list? Take a look below:

Zhong Shanshan

Bottled-water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become China's wealthiest person, worth $60.5 billion
Bottled-water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become China’s wealthiest person, worth $60.5 billion
CNS / STR

Zhong Shanshan, also known as the “lone wolf,” holds his position as China’s wealthiest person with a current net worth of $67.4 billion — making him top 15 on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaire list.

The 68-year-old businessman, who manages both bottled water company Nongfu Spring and the leading manufacturer of infectious disease diagnostics Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, garnered public attention in 2020 after being declared the new richest man in China after increasing his wealth to more than $70 billion.

Zhong dethroned Asia’s former richest man, Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani, who became the first Asian member of the world’s recorded top 10 most opulent people in 2020, according to Fortune.

Zhang Yiming

Zhang Yiming, founder and global CEO of ByteDance, poses in Palo Alto, California
Reuters

Zhang Yiming, the 39-year-old founder of the tech company ByteDance known for its now famous short-formed video hosting service TikTok, is the second most well-off person in China; and the 24th in the world today, with a real-time net worth of $49.5 billion.

Zhang, who stepped down as CEO of Bytedance in May 2021 and as chairman in November 2021, decided to focus on the company’s strategic areas after reportedly being pressured by the Chinese regulators’ several enforcement actions on leading businesses. He derives most of his wealth from leading the Beijing-based company, which accumulated a $180 billion valuation in 2020.

Ma Huateng

Tencent chief executive Ma Huateng speaks during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2018 in Shanghai
Tencent chief executive Ma Huateng speaks during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2018 in Shanghai
AFP / STR

He is the chairman and CEO of one of the global pioneers in digital-based technology innovations, Tencent Holdings. Ma Huateng, 51, nicknamed Pony Ma, started research and development of an internet paging system development at China Motion Telecom Development before finally launching Tencent in 1998.

He now has a recorded net worth of $38.7 billion — making him the third richest person in China and 27th in the world today.

Ma, who finished a degree at Shenzhen University, gets most of his wealth from the Chinese technology conglomerate, best known for its instant messaging application WeChat and mobile gaming endeavors.

Colin Zheng Huang

Colin Zheng Huang, the former chairman of online discounter Pinduoduo, has a current net worth of $30.9B. He ranks as the fourth richest entrepreneur in China and positions 41 on the world’s list.

According to Business Insider, Huang worked as an intern at Microsoft (both Beijing and Seattle), where he received his first-ever salary. Upon graduating from a university in 2004, he began his career at Google in the United States as a software engineer, which he described as his lucky break.

Huang also founded several businesses, including his first e-commerce site, Ouku, which he sold for $2.2 million in 2010.

Huang stepped down as chief executive in 2020 and as chairman in 2021 to pursue his interests in life sciences. He was previously reported to be in discussions with Chinese universities to set up research labs on biotechnology.

William Lei Ding

The current fifth-highest earner in China, William Lei Ding, began his professional career by working in a local state department in Ningbo as an engineer. He now manages and controls NetEase, one of the world’s greatest online and mobile games businesses, as the company’s chief executive officer. The 51-year-old Zhejiang-born entrepreneur became China’s wealthiest man and the country’s first internet and gaming billionaire back in 2003.

The Beijing-based company, which Ding founded in June 1997 with only three employees, became popular due to its games like “Overwatch” and “Westward Journey,” according to South China Morning Post. He now places 55 among the world’s richest persons, with a $25.2 billion net worth.

He Xiangjian

He Xiangjian, $5.5 billion, Midea Group
The 68-year-old is the founder of Midea Group, one of the largest appliances manufacturers in China. The company is particularly active in the air conditioning market. He has stepped down as the chairman of the company but remains its largest shareholder.
www.mideaaircon.com

The mind behind Midea Group, an extensive Chinese electrical appliance maker, ranks sixth among the most affluent personalities in China and 59th globally, with assets amounting to $24.6 billion.

He Xiangjian, the oldest billionaire among the top 10 in the country, strived to build his legacy by initially leading a total of 23 residents from the town of Beijiao in Guangdong Province in 1968 to start a lid production workshop that later became Midea, known for producing several household products, including heaters, refrigerators and washing machines.

He stepped down from Midea Group operations in 2012. Still, he continues to be part of the company’s controlling shareholder. His son, He Jianfeng, is now a director of Midea Group and Midea Real Estate Holding.

He and his family were previously involved in a 2020 hostage-taking incident wherein they were abducted in their home by intruders armed with explosives. Fortunately, his son managed to flee and swim across a small river to alert the police, the Guardian reported.

Jack Ma

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, speaks in front of a picture of SoftBank's human-like robot named 'pepper' during a news conference in Chiba
Reuters

Despite the billionaire reportedly laying low since 2020 amid the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on Alibaba and Ant Group, Jack Ma has a recorded net worth of $22.9 billion – placing him seventh on China’s wealthiest person list and 64th in the world.

Ma, who previously offered Hangzhou visitors tours of the city in exchange for English lessons, got his nickname “Jack” through one of the tourists he befriended.

He soon co-founded Alibaba Group in 1999 and Ant Group, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. However, Ant Group recently said that Ma would withdraw all his control in Ant Group amid closer scrutiny from Beijing. Ma also gave up his executive position at Alibaba in 2019.

Wang Wei

The 52-year-old chairman of S. F. Holding, also called SF Express, a leading package delivery service in China founded in 1993, stands as the country’s eighth wealthiest man. With a $21.9 billion net worth, Wang Wei also ranks 65th richest in the world.

Wang owns an estimated 60% of the company shares; he brought the package delivery company through a reverse merger onto the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in early 2017 with a revenue of $32 billion in 2021.

Wang borrowed money from his father, amounting to around $13,000, to start SF Express with five of his friends.

Li Shufu

The chairman of one of China’s popular automakers, Geely Automobile Holdings, is the ninth wealthiest person in China and the 74th in the world.

Li Shufu, with a current net worth of $20.8 billion, continues to expand his 1986-founded private holding company internationally since 2010, after owning the Swedish car brand Volvo.

The 59-year-old car enthusiast even bought stakes in Daimler, sportscar maker Lotus, and flying car start-up Terrafugia.

Li has also been active in helping the communities by establishing academic institutions as well as foundations. Geely Holding Group founded Beijing Geely College, the largest private college in China, in 1999.

Wang Chuanfu

With a net worth of $20.3 billion, Wang Chuanfu is considered the tenth richest man in China and positions 76th in the global listing. Wang, who holds the largest EV market in the world and beat Tesla in 2022, was born in one of China’s poorest provinces in 1966 — he was orphaned as a teenager and raised by his elder siblings.

Wang co-founded the competitive rechargeable battery company BYD, which stands for “Build Your Dreams,” in the 1990s.

The Shenzhen-based company also makes rechargeable and nickel-cadmium batteries for mobile phones. The company’s notable customers in the mobile phone market include Motorola and Nokia.