For the first time a female entrepreneur has topped a list of China's wealthiest people. Zhang Yin, 49-year-old founder and chairwoman of Guangdong-based Nine Dragons Paper Industries Co. Ltd., has accumulated a fortune of 27 billion yuan (US$3.375 billion).
"She’s the wealthiest self-made woman in the world," said Rupert Hoogewerf. He set up the listing, known as the Huran Report, in 1999. According to him, Zhang is richer than the US television hostess Oprah Winfrey and author of the Harry Potter books JK Rowling.
Zhang Yin was born to the family of a solider in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and the eldest in a family of eight children. She went to Hong Kong in 1985 and started her career in waste paper trading with 30,000 yuan.
She dealt with financial hardship, cheating business partners and intimidation from local criminals to build up her wealth in the subsequent five years before moving to the United States with her husband in 1990 to pursue her dream of becoming an "empress of waste paper."
In 1996 she set up the Nine Dragons Paper Industries Co. Ltd. in Dongguan of Guangdong. Her product is now used by multinational companies like Coca Cola, Nike, Sony, Haier and TCL. Zhang deems luck as the most important factor in her success and indicates that a down-to-earth personality has helped her career.
In second place is Huang Guangyu of China's household electronics giant GOME Electrical Appliances with a fortune of 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) after occupying the top spot for the last two years.
Huang started his career with a roadside stall in Beijing selling radios and gadgets. GOME now has 560 branches in over 160 cities on the Chinese mainland and 12 in Hong Kong and Macao.
In third place is 47-year-old Zhu Mengyi, CEO of the Hopson Development Holding Limited, with 16.5 billion yuan (US$2.06 billion). After graduating from a middle school he built up his fortune after being a foreman in a township in Guangdong.
Of the 500 on the list 35 are female which is seven percent of the total. The latest listing suggests women are showing an increasing talent for business, Hoogewerf said.
Six people in the top ten are involved in real estate and four are from southeast China's Guangdong Province.
People are getting rich more quickly, said Hoogewerf. He explained that last year the person ranked No. 400 on the listing had 500 million yuan (US$62.5 million) while this year the person in that position had 800 million yuan (US$100 million).
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)