Born in 1951 in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region (bordering Vietnam), Wang Shi joined the army at 17, before moving to the railway bureau where he worked in a boiler repair workshop. At 23 he enrolled at Lanzhou Railway University, and afterwards worked as an engineer on railway projects. In 1980 he joined Guangdong’s foreign trade promotion body.
He arrived in Shenzhen in the mid-80s and quickly saw business opportunities. He made his first money broking corn feed, and invested the capital in electronic goods from Japan. He went on to run factories making garments, watches and beverages. In 1988 he changed his company name to Vanke and participated in his first property development – winning the auction for the Weideng Villa plot in Shenzhen.
Need to know
Vanke listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 1991 with stock code 000002. It is now the country’s biggest property company with a market capitalisation of $21.6 billion. Its main focus is on residential property and its sales climbed 27.5% in the first half to $4.5 billion.
Why’s he famous?
As Chairman of Vanke he is famous for rejecting bribery as a business tool. Southern Weekly last month nominated him as one of eight people who represented ‘benchmarks’ of contemporary China – he was chosen for the business world. When asked to select one characteristic to define himself, Wang chose “non-briber”.
In his own words
“Vanke has been involved in everything except pornography, gambling, drugs and arms.”
And to relax
Wang is a bit like the Chinese Richard Branson. He likes hot air balloons, has skied to the North Pole and is keen on risky endeavours. He is also an avid mountain climber. Since 2000 he has ascended Zangtse-Bei Peak, Muztag Ata, Kilimanjaro, Vinson Massif and Mount Carstensz. He is also one of the 120 Chinese to summit Everest.
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