As night falls on the town of Mayong in south China's Guangdong Province
, container trucks
emblazoned with the logo "Nine Dragons Paper", a local household
name, take to the streets.
Long after most people have gone home for the night the Nine
Dragons Paper factory is still ablaze with lights.
"We run around the clock. I've never seen a slack period since I
worked here," says a company manager, adding that orders had
already piled up into December for the firm's packaging products,
which are used by companies like Coca Cola, Nike, Sony, Haier and
Waste paper is the foundation of the wealth of Zhang Yin, the
49-year-old owner of the factory and its sister plant in the
eastern Jiangsu Province.
The first woman to top the Huran Report rich list in China,
Zhang has amassed an estimated fortune of 27 billion yuan (US$3.4
billion) by recycling scrap paper imported from the United
And topping the rich list has made her even richer. The share
price of her company jumped 2.77 percent on the good news, adding
another 1.1 billion yuan to her assets.
Wealthier than US television host Oprah Winfrey and author of
the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling, Zhang is described by
acquaintances as a "round-faced, not very tall" woman who "doesn't
like dressing up and looks like a person of action".
Over the years, Zhang's low profile has helped her remain
"I'm an entrepreneur. A high profile is unnecessary," Zhang was
quoted as saying by the Shanghai-based China Business News, whose
reporter described her speaking as "extremely fast".
"This title is just a calculation, not a big thing for me,"
Zhang Yin told a Xinhua reporter last week. "But it's very
important for my group. We have worked for 20 years to make the
The eldest of eight children in a poor soldier's family in
northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Zhang learnt
independence at an early age by looking after her brothers and
She started her career in waste paper trading in Hong Kong with
30,000 yuan in 1985 and has stuck with the paper industry since
Aspiring to be the "queen of waste paper," Zhang continued to
build her realm in the United States by setting up the America
Chung Namp, Inc. (ACN) in 1990.
The ACN, whose asset value was not calculated in the rich list,
is reported to provide nearly 80 percent of the raw materials for
the Nine Dragons Paper.
"The key to the success of Nine Dragons Paper is ensuring the
long-term and steady purchase of high-quality waste paper in large
quantities," said Zhang.
ACN took good care of that, ranking the largest US exporter of
raw materials for papermaking and the biggest container exporter
among all US industries for the past five years in a row.
ACN's success came with the burgeoning Chinese paper-makers'
reliance on imported scrap paper.
Since its beginnings in the 1990s, China's papermaking industry
is growing faster than any other in the world with an output of
49.5 million tons in 2004, while 54.4 million tons of paper was
consumed, both figures ranking the world's second highest.
However, domestic supplies are insufficient, as only 30 percent
of China's scrap paper is recycled each year, compared with 70
percent in the United States.
Forced to buy foreign scrap, China imported 12 million tons of
waste paper in 2005, nearly half of the world's waste paper
available for export.
(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2006)