Manufacturing bottled water in Hangzhou, Zhong Shanshan succeeded in becoming the wealthiest magnate in China. (Image via Financial Times)

Zhong Shanshan, the new big guy in China

There is a new fat cat in China, and his name is Zhong Shanshan. Officially, Shanshan has replaced the position previously held by the founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ma now sits in the 19th position with a $56,3 billion fortune, while Shanshan replaced Ma in the 18th position with a $58,7 billion fortune. Moreover, according to CNN Business, Shanshan also toppled another magnate and the founder of Tencent Holding, Pony Ma.

The funny thing is, while both Jack and Pony Ma are pursuing wealth through technology and internet innovations, Zhong Shanshan takes a rather unique approach: bottled water. Yes, Shanshan is the figure behind Nongfu Spring, a bottled water manufacturer based in Hangzhou.

Previously the third wealthiest person in China, Shanshan snatched the top spot after listing his shares in Hongkong in early September 2020. Not only the bottled water company but also Shanshan happens to control Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy, whose shares also listed in Shanghai Stock Exchange in April 2020, further bolstering Shanshan grip as the new moneybags in town.

Rupert Hoogeworf, the leading researcher and founder of the Hurun Report which compiled the list of wealthiest people in China into Hurun Rich List, was baffled that Shanshan's bottled water company would overcome technology's dominance in China. He also stated that Shanshan is known as a "lone wolf" for having a few connections and running his business alone. Despite that, Shanshan succeeds in running 2 businesses worth $10 billion altogether.