10 Things You Didn’t Know about Zhong Shanshan

Zhong Shanshan

Zhong Shanshan is a Chinese businessman. In recent times, his name has shown up in English media because he is now believed to be the richest man in Asia, beating out Mukesh Ambani for the honor.

1. Both Shan Use the Same Character

Zhong Shanshan is a Chinese name. As a result, Zhong is his family name, while Shanshan is his personal name. Generally speaking, just because a Chinese name looks like it has repeated a syllable when written in English, that doesn’t mean it has repeated a character. After all, Chinese is a tonal language packed full of homonyms. However, it is interesting to note that both Shan in Shanshan are written using the same character.

2. Born in Hangzhou

Background-wise, Zhong was born in Hangzhou, which is situated at the head of the Hangzhou Bay that separates Shanghai and Ningbo. In the present time, it is famous for being a tech hub, a research hub, and a commercial hub. However, Hangzhou isn’t a newcomer to such status, seeing as how it has served as a capital for not one but two Chinese states over the course of its existence.

3. School Dropout

Zhong is a school dropout. To be exact, he left school in the sixth grade, which makes his subsequent achievements that much more impressive. Having said that, Zhong did get the chance for some further education later in life, seeing as how he spent some time studying at the Open University of China.

4. Grew Up During the Cultural Revolution

For context, Zhong grew up during the Cultural Revolution, which was a mass social movement that was meant to purge both capitalist elements and traditional elements from China. This caused widespread damage, with the Chinese education system being no exception to the rule. Both schools and universities were closed down in the earliest months. The former were reopened, while the latter remained closed from 1966 to 1970. On top of that, a lot of urban youth were sent to live as well as work in rural areas, with some being willing and some being unwilling. Having said that, it is curious to note that the Cultural Revolution had uneven effects on Chinese education. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it caused great damage to the Chinese education system, which was particularly bad at the higher end of things. However, its hostility to the intellectual elite went hand-in-hand with a promotion of middle school education in rural areas. Something that is believed to be one of the contributing factors to the rural economic development of the 1970s and 1980s.

5. Worked a Wide Range of Jobs

As a school dropout, Zhong worked a wide range of jobs to make a living. For example, he has been a construction worker. Likewise, he has been a news reporter. Amusingly, considering what Zhong eventually winded up doing, he was a beverage salesman for a time as well.

6. Not a Tech Entrepreneur

Generally speaking, when people hear about self-made billionaires, chances are good that they will think of tech entrepreneurs. After all, there are a lot of people who have managed to make their fortunes in recent decades because of their direct or indirect work in various tech industries. Certainly, China has numerous examples of such individuals, particularly since Chinese society celebrates them. However, Zhong isn’t one of them. Instead, his success is founded upon not one but two massive companies that operate in very different industries.

7. Founded Nongfu Spring

First, Zhong is famous for being the founder of Nongfu Spring. Primarily, this is a company that sells bottled water. However, Nongfu Spring is known for teas, juices, and other beverages as well. Initially, Nongfu Spring sourced its water from Qiandao Lake, which means Thousand Island Lake. Said body of water came into existence upon the completion of the Xin’an River hydroelectric station in 1959. Since that time, it has become a popular site for tourism as well as other economic activities. Nongfu Spring is an excellent example. However, another would be how it is home to almost a third of the world’s caviar production thanks to aquaculture.

8. Founded Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise

Second, Zhong is famous for being the founder of Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise. Based on the name, it should come as no surprise to learn that this company focuses on medical products. To be exact, Wantai tends to be known for a couple of kinds of medical products. One, it makes vaccines, which have been a very popular topic in 2020 but tend to be much less attention-grabbing the rest of the time. Two, it makes hepatitis test-kits, which is important because hepatitis B is common enough for discrimination against hepatitis B carriers to be considered a social issue in China.

9. Took Both of His Companies Public

Zhong has received so much attention in recent times because he took both of his companies public in 2020. As a result, he has seen his net worth skyrocket, so much so that it isn’t an exaggeration to say that it has tripled over a very short period of time. Time will tell whether Zhong will hold on to his spot or not. However, since he is just a bit ahead of Jack Ma, it is very likely that he will be unseated when the Ant Group IPO is permitted to go forward. Yes, said event was blocked very suddenly. However, more recent occurrences suggest that the Chinese government is more interested in regulating Ma’s companies than axing them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have revealed its investigation just before Christmas, which is a classic example of burying news by releasing it at a time when people are preoccupied with other matters.

10. Called the Lone Wolf

It is interesting to note that Zhong has been called the Lone Wolf, which is a term that has both positive and negative connotations in Chinese culture. On the one hand, it means that he is a loner; on the other hand, it means that he is self-reliant. Zhong earned the nickname for two reasons. One would be his business style. The other would be his preference for avoiding not just the spotlight but also the company of other successful entrepreneurs.


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