Zhang Xin (Entrepreneur)

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Zhang Xin at a 2013 SOHO China event

Zhang Xin also known as Xin "Shynn" Zhang ( Chinese  張欣 , Pinyin Zhāng Xīn ; born August 24, 1965 in Beijing ) is a Chinese entrepreneur in the real estate industry . Together with her husband Pan Shiyi , she is CEO of the real estate company SOHO-China Ltd.

Origin, youth and education

Zhang Xin's parents left Burma and immigrated to China in the 1950s. There they worked as translators for the foreign language press.

Zhang was born in Beijing in 1965. The parents separated during the Cultural Revolution , she stayed with her mother and moved to Hong Kong with her at the age of 15 , where they lived in poor and cramped conditions. To save money for an education abroad, she worked for five years in small factories for clothing and electronic products. By the age of 19, she had saved enough to afford a flight to London and study English at a secretarial school in Oxford. To make a living during this period, she worked in a traditional British fish and chip shop run by a Chinese couple. She later reported taking Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a model, but at the same time developed an admiration for left-wing British intellectuals.

During her training at the Oxford Secretariat School, she was awarded a scholarship in 1987, which enabled her to begin an economics degree at the University of Sussex , which she completed with a bachelor's degree. In 1992 she finished her Masters in Development Economics at Cambridge University with a thesis on privatization in China. In 2013, Zhang was awarded an honorary doctorate from her first university in Sussex .


After graduating, Zhang was employed by the London-based Barings Bank , who were looking for students at Cambridge University with knowledge of privatization in China and selected Zhang for their master's thesis on the subject. She returned to Hong Kong. When her department at Barings Bank was taken over by Goldman Sachs in 1993 , she moved to New York City , where, with her help, privatized Chinese companies were brought to Wall Street . Enthusiastic about the rapid development of the Chinese metropolises, she returned to her hometown Beijing, where she met and married Pan Shiyi in 1994. Together they founded the company Hongshi (Chinese: Red Stone ), from which SOHO China emerged in 1995 .

In 1994 the couple started a mixed development project for previously unused land, called "New Town". In the following ten years, six additional development projects followed in China, including a residential complex in the coastal town of Boao on the island of Hainan and the Commune by the Great Wall ( 长城 脚下 的 公社 ), a boutique hotel in Beijing, which is a joint project of twelve Zhang selected architects came into being.

Ten years after it was founded, Zhang and Shiyi's company was the largest developer in the country, and Zhang became "the woman who built Beijing." In 2008, the British Times called the couple "China's most famous and extravagant real estate tycoons". In 2011, Zhang shifted her business focus from China to the US when she acquired a $ 600 million stake in New York's luxury hotel Plaza , followed by a stake in the 2014 acquisition of 40% of the General Motors Building in the heart of Manhattan, for allegedly 1.4 $ Billion. At that time, Zhang was involved in 18 companies in Beijing and 11 in Shanghai through SOHO China. SOHO China changed the business model from building and selling buildings to buying and renting real estate, for example by participating in the Launch of the SOHO 3Q in February 2015 .

Social Commitment

Zhang and Shiyi founded the SOHO China Foundation in 2005 as a philanthropic organization with the aim of supporting education-oriented initiatives to reduce poverty. In July 2014, the organization launched the SOHO China Scholarships with a volume of $ 100 million to “support needy Chinese students at top institutions around the globe”. The initiative included donations of over $ 10 million to Yale University and over $ 15 million to Harvard University , which sparked controversy over whether the money might be better used to improve the Chinese school system.


Zhang is a member and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in Davos , a member of the global advisory board of the US think tank Council on Foreign Relations and a board member of the Harvard Global Advisory Council . From 2005 to 2010 she worked as a trustee of the China Institute in the USA. In 2010 she received the Blue Cloud Award from the China Institute .

Zhang Xin (2002)

Zhang was named 62nd in the list of the most influential women in the world by the American business magazine Forbes in 2014 and is regularly referred to in various media as "one of the top business women in the world". Zhang and her husband also appeared in Forbes' 2014 ranking among the most influential couples in the world. In 2018, she was ranked 74th as a multi-billionaire on Forbes' list of the richest Chinese people.

One of China's best-known female entrepreneurs, Zhang's account on Sina Weibo , the Chinese equivalent of Twitter , is followed by over 10 million people.

Zhang has received international awards for her role as godmother of architectural projects in China and as an entrepreneur. In September 2002 she was awarded the special prize for sponsoring a building at the eighth International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, namely the Commune by the Great Wall , a private architectural ensemble.

Private life

Zhang Xin and her husband Pan Shiyi have two sons and profess Baha'itum . Zhang made a cameo as the representative of a Chinese investor in the 2010 US film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps .

further reading

  • Gillet, Kit: " ZHANG XIN " ( Archives ). China International Business (CIB), January 19, 2010.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jennifer Garner, Bumble Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, and theSkimm Co-Founders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin to Speak at Vanity Fair's Second Annual Founders Fair . Vanity Fair. March 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Peter Foster: Meet Zhang Xin, China's self-made billionairess . In: Telegraph UK , June 27, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ Ingrid Li: Zhang Xin: On the Return to China . Jorge Pinto Books ,, ISBN 9780977472413 , pp. 1-2.
  4. a b c d e f g h Jianying Zha: The Turtles: How an unlikely couple became China's best-known real-estate moguls . The New Yorker . July 11, 2005.
  5. a b c d e f Bettina von Hase: Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi: Beijing's It-couple , The Times of London. August 2, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2010. 
  6. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Zhang Xin: The woman who built Beijing . Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  7. How Zhang Xin Became the 'Woman Who Built Beijing' , Vanity Fair. April 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018. 
  8. ^ A b William Mellor: Beijing Billionaire Who Grew Up With Mao Sees No Housing Bubble , Bloomberg Markets magazine. September 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010. 
  9. BBC Radio 4 profile of Zhang Xin by Justin Bolby . In: BBC . 17th March 2013.
  10. Meet Zhang Xin, China's self-made billionairess . The Telegraph. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  11. University of Sussex: Sussex encouraged me to become the person I am, says entrepreneur Z . University of Sussex. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  12. How Zhang Xin Became the 'Woman Who Built Beijing' . MSNBC . April 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Justina Crabtree: How time in England shaped 'the woman who built Beijing' . CNBC. 22nd June 2017.
  14. a b c d e Bryna Singh: Controversy over US $ 10 million donation to Yale: 7 things about China's power couple Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin . The Straits Times . October 30, 2014.
  15. Ilaina Jonas: Two big Manhattan property deals signal recovery, China interest . Reuters. 2nd June 2013.
  16. a b GM Building Stake Said to Sell to Zhang, Safra Families . Bloomberg .
  17. Russell Flannery: Soho China's CEO Zhang Xin: 'The Slowdown Will Continue' . Forbes . 16th September 2015.
  18. Huileng Tan: Tech sector boosting property demand in Beijing, Shanghai: Soho China . CNBC. June 14, 2016.
  19. ^ A b Andy Browne: Chinese Property Power Couple Launches $ 100 Million Education Fund, Starting With Harvard . Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  20. ^ SOHO China: GAC Member Directory . Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  21. 2011 China Institute Gala Honors Virginia Kamsky and Zhang Xin . Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  22. https://www.forbes.com/china-billionaires/list/2/#tab:overall%7CAbruf on November 24, 2018
  23. A Billionaire Worth Rooting For? . Forbes . December 3, 2010.
  24. Yuan Li: MarketWatch: Chinese Billionaire Embraces Religion . The Wall Street Journal . March 6, 2011.
  25. Gady Epstein: Chinese Billionaire Goes Hollywood In 'Wall Street' Sequel . Forbes . October 20, 2010.