Since China began to open up and reform its economy in 1978, it’s experienced a rapid rise in fortunes. Since that time, the country has grown by an average of 9% a year, lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and produced some truly inspiring CEOs.
For most of the past few decades, China’s economy has been largely based on investment in heavy industry, low-cost manufacturing, and cheap exports. In recent years, however, a new industry has begun to dominate the Chinese stock markets: tech. In this list of Chinese CEOs—ranked by personal wealth—you’ll see that tech companies are by far the best-represented sector, alongside some more surprising firms.
- China’s rapid economic development has produced some truly inspiring CEOs over the past decade, and Chinese companies are now some of the biggest in the world.
- As of 2020, there have been more Fortune 500 companies in China than in the U.S.
- Though Chinese tech companies like ByteDance and Alibaba have made headlines in the past few years, some of China’s most successful CEOs run much more “traditional” companies in the mining or logistics sectors.
Net worth: $68 billion
The richest person in China, Zhong is one of the only CEOs on this list who didn’t make his fortune in tech. Instead, his primary company, Nongfu Spring, produces bottled water and tea drinks. Another of his companies, Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy, produces Covid-19 test kits. The IPO of his company in September 2020 catapulted him to the top of Forbes’ Chinese Billionaires list.
Net worth: $35.3 billion
Also known as Pony Ma, Ma Huateng has been one of the most successful Chinese CEOs for most of the past decade. He is the CEO and partial owner of media giant Tencent, and has guided the company through multiple crises as the Chinese government has tightened rules on internet businesses. He should also be given credit for spotting great investment opportunities: Tencent acquired Epic Games, maker of the popular game Fortnite, in 2013. At the time, they paid $300 million. That stake is now worth more than $6.8 billion.
Colin Zheng Huang
Net worth: $30.2 billion
Huang’s wealth—and reputation as a CEO—has increased dramatically over the past year. Shares in his primary company, PDD Holdings, have almost doubled in price since he announced the launch of Temu, a budget shopping site for the U.S. that will compete directly with Shein. Huang’s experience as the CEO of Pinduoduo, a giant in the Chinese e-commerce market, will be invaluable in moving into the U.S. market.
China’s rapid economic growth means it has rapidly caught up with the U.S. As of 2020, there have been more Fortune 500 companies in China than in the U.S.
William Lei Ding
Net worth: $26.7 billion
Ding is the CEO of NetEase. Though little heard of in the West, NetEase has grown into one of the largest gaming businesses in China, and is now poised for even greater success. China has now eased restrictions on the import of foreign games, and NetEase is very well placed to sell them to Chinese audiences.
Net worth: $23.5 billion
Jack Ma is the founder of one of the Chinese companies that everyone has heard of—Alibaba. He was once the richest person in China, but has since slipped down the rankings as other tech billionaires have risen. Nonetheless, the company Ma founded paved the way for e-commerce retailers in China and around the world.
Net worth: $23.4 billion
He is the CEO of Midea, a company that makes home appliances. Though the rise of the company has been slower than some of the tech companies on this list, He’s leadership has seen Midea grow year-on-year for more than a decade, despite economic shocks and shortages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company is now looking to expand further into the U.S. and European markets, to offset slower sales in China.
Net worth: $21.2 billion
Wang’s story is another that proves the potential of often-overlooked sectors to produce huge profits. He is the CEO and founder of S.F. holdings, a package-delivery company that is now the largest logistics service provider in China, and the fourth biggest in the world.
Zhejiang Geely Holding
Net worth: $19 billion
Li is the CEO of Zhejiang Geely Holding, an investment firm that has made a fortune by backing auto manufacturers. The company holds direct and indirect stakes in Volvo, Daimler, Geely Automotive and Polestar. By diversifying the firm’s holdings, Li has managed to lead it through recent volatility in the auto markets.
Amer International Group
Net worth: $19 billion
Amer International Group is one of the world’s biggest supplies of non-ferrous metals, and Wang Wenyin is estimated to own 75% of the company in addition to being its CEO. The business has its headquarters in Shenzen, has more than 30,000 employees, and generated $112 billion in revenue in 2021, according to Forbes.
What Is the Average Salary of a CEO in China?
According to Payscale, the average salary of a CEO in China is ¥1,442,608. That’s about $11,000 USD a year.
Who Are Some Prominent Chinese CEOs in the U.S.?
There have been some legendary CEOs who have made the move to the U.S. They include Eric Yuan, founder of video conferencing giant Zoom.
Who Is the Youngest CEO in China?
Since even tiny companies can have CEOs, this is a very hard question to answer. There are plenty of young, successful Chinese CEOs, though—China has 60 billionaires below the age of 40.
Who is Alibaba’s CEO?
Daniel Zhang. Before becoming the CEO, Zhang was best known for his roles as CEO of Taobao and president of Tmall.
China’s rapid economic development has produced some truly inspiring CEOs over the past decade, and Chinese companies are now some of the biggest in the world. Though Chinese tech companies like ByteDance and Alibaba have made headlines in the past few years, some of China’s most successful CEOs run much more “traditional” companies in the mining or logistics sectors.