Meet Zhong Shanshan — Asia’s New Richest Man

He made $70 billion in 2020, and over $20 billion in the first week of the new year alone. But who exactly is Zhong Shanshan?

We all have different standards of what constitutes a good year. Maybe your start-up attracted its first investors. Maybe your business pioneered pathways into new markets. Maybe your stocks actually did what your broker promised.

Or, maybe, in a year of lockdowns, political turmoil and a rampaging virus, you simply managed to earn a living wage.

Whatever your definition of financial success was in 2020, it likely pales in comparison to the year that Chinese investor Zhong Shanshan had.

In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to better Shanshan; as 2020 came to an end he was an incredible $70 billion richer, edging out Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani to become the richest man in Asia, and the 11th richest man in the world.

2021 has so far been kind to the Chinese giant too; between 30th December and the end of the first week of January, Shanshan’s fortune grew again to $91.7 billion, making him the sixth richest person in the world.

According to the Times of India, Shanshan’s rise is only the second time a Chinese national has broken into Bloomberg’s list of the top ten richest people in the world (property tycoon Wang Jianlin hit 8th place in 2015).

Known as the ‘Lone Wolf’ due to his rare media interviews and the fact that he isn’t involved in politics and doesn’t deal with other rich Chinese families, 66 year-old Shanshan is the chairman of bottled water company Nongfu Spring, and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise.

According to Bloomberg, the companies reported a combined $3.6 billion revenue in 2019. Twenty-twenty, however, was the year that changed everything.

But who, exactly, is Shanshan? Prior to 2020 his net worth was estimated at a comparatively inconsequential $7.8 billion. How did he rise to the top of the pile so quickly to become the richest man in a continent of 4.6 billion people – almost 60% of the world’s population?

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