After the First Opium War in 1840, China, previously a huge feudal empire, was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. During the 110 years from 1840 to 1949, the country, though torn by war and unrest, witnessed the bloom of a number of prominent entrepreneurs who had unprecedented influence on the country's social economy and politics.
During this unusual historical period, industry and commerce were no longer ignored as in the past. Most of these merchants not only seized the opportunities to build their business empires, but took on social responsibilities as well. As the edge-cutting pioneers and founders of China's national industry, their influences are still greatly felt today.
Tang Tingshu 唐廷枢
Tang Tingshu [baidu.com]
He sponsored the arduous development of the Kaiping Coalmine in Hebei Province, and worked there since 1885 until his death. The coalmine, the earliest large-scale mine using machine exploitation in north China, reported the highest annual output nationwide at the end of the 19th century. He then promoted the building of the Kaiping Tramway, the first of its kind in China. He is also remembered for creating the first cement manufacturing plant in modern China, the first insurance company run by Chinese businessmen, and the first hospital in Shanghai.