China has quickly become a global powerhouse in terms of economic output and growth. Formerly a communist economy, the Chinese government in the past few years has loosened its stance regarding private ownership and the ability to found a private business. As a result, many of the world’s millionaires and billionaires are now found in China where, unsurprisingly, technology start-ups dominate the entrepreneurial landscape.
Influential Chinese Entrepreneurs
Many of China’s millionaires and entrepreneurs come from a tech background. Given their access to low-cost electronics, it makes sense. However, many of the influential entrepreneurs on this list made their money in traditional businesses, like energy supply and mining.
Net worth: $9 billion
Liu is the founder of the personal computer (PC) maker Lenovo (LNVGY). Created in 1984 in a garage near the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing as a small computer reseller, Lenovo is one of the world’s leading makers of PCs, including desktops, notebooks, and servers. Lenovo famously acquired IBM’s (IBM) PC business in 2005. In December 2019, the company announced that Liu would retire as the chair of Lenovo Group’s parent company, Legend Holdings, at the end of 2019.
Net worth: $18.3 billion
China’s version of Amazon (AMZN), JD.com (JD), was founded in 1998 by Liu Qiangdong, experiencing a relaunch in 2004. The e-commerce giant boasted nearly $28.5 billion in net revenues for the second quarter of 2020. This was an increase of 33.8% from the second quarter of 2019.
On June 18, 2020, JD.com successfully listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited with a global offering of 152,912,100 new Class A ordinary shares. These shares are fully fungible with JD.com’s American depositary shares (ADSs) listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, based on the ratio of two ordinary shares per ADS.
Net worth: $21.1 billion
Lei founded Xiaomi, one of the largest mobile phone producers in the world. Created in 2010 to manufacture inexpensive smartphones, it has also branched out into app development through its subsidiaries Kingsoft and Cheetah Mobile. Jun also created internet services provider Xunlei.
Net worth: $9.2 billion
Wang is the chair of Amer International Group, a company dealing in metals and mining as well as industrial products. Wenyin has capitalized on China’s increasing demand for raw materials and metals in building its cities and infrastructure.
Net worth: $8.5 billion
Zong founded food and beverage maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group, which started as a small shop in a children’s school in the city of Hangzhou. The company’s core products are bottled water and tea drinks that are exceedingly popular throughout Asia.
Net worth: $1.9 billion
Li is the chair of renewable energy giant Hanergy Holding Group, which specializes in solar panel technology. Capitalizing on strong government incentives in China to develop and extend alternative energy sources, Hejun made a fortune that put his net worth over $13 billion.
Since his peak, his companies have fallen on some hard times, and his net worth is not what it once was. His company also runs one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants.
Net worth: $14 billion
Wang Jianlin owns Dalian Wanda Group, a conglomerate consisting of luxury hotel properties, commercial real estate, and e-commerce ventures. Jianlin is worth tens of billions due to the incredible property boom that China has experienced over the past decade. He also once held a large stake in the European soccer club Atletico Madrid.
Net worth: $36 billion
“Pony” Ma Huateng is the founder of Tencent (TCEHY), China’s largest internet service provider. The company has grown to attract over 1.2 billion users by also offering online games and free add-on services such as text messaging. Tencent owns a substantial portfolio of alternative business ventures.
Net worth: $7.3 billion
Li is the CEO and chair of Baidu (BEGINNING), China’s number one search engine, sometimes Google-how-are-they-different.asp” data-component=”link” data-source=”inlineLink” data-type=”internalLink” data-ordinal=”2″>referred to as China’s Google. Li first worked as a senior computer engineer at American internet startup Infoseek. Li co-founded Baidu in 2000 and since its inception has dominated the Chinese search engine market.
Net Worth: $54.1 billion
Ma founded Alibaba Group (BABA). Alibaba was created in 1999 as a Chinese e-commerce site reminiscent of Amazon or eBay. It soon found popularity as a place for Chinese factories to offer their products in bulk worldwide. Alibaba was the biggest IPO of 2014 and one of the largest ever. Ma is often listed as the richest man in China.