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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This Woman Has Built More Buildings in China Than in Any Emperor in All of China's History

Zhang Xin, founder of SOHO China
Zhang Xin is a real estate mogul that develops in major cities throughout China like Beijing. According to 60 Minutes, her and her husband have built more buildings than any emperor in all of China's history. Xin is often named as one of the top businesswomen not just in Asia, but in the whole world. She is credited with establishing the cityscape of Beijing with huge buildings.
She is dubbed as the "Steve Jobs of the Architecture World" because of her futuristic and daring designs. Her net worth, together with her husband, is over $3.3 billion making her always on the list of the richest self-made billionaire women in the world. However, life has not always been really easy for her.

Rags to riches story

Having been born at the time of Mao Zedong's communist regime, she experienced being destitute and homeless. During the Cultural Revolution, capitalists and intellectuals were purged. Her parents were both university graduates, so they were forced to move to the countryside separated with her father and brother.

But Xin was a natural brave achiever. At 14, she moved to Hong Kong trying to have a better life, not knowing it was just as hard. For five years, she worked as a factory worker at a sweatshop. "I knew that's not the life I wanted to have," she said.

Consequently, after earning enough money, she bought a one-way ticket to London. It wasn't easy, she was alone and surrounded by people whose language she doesn't understand. But later on, she studied English at a secretarial school which led to having a scholarship at the University of Sussex and Master's degree in Economics at Cambridge University.

Perfect timing

Zhang Xin graduated in 1992, just in time when China started to open up its market for foreign investors. She had an underlying feeling that something good was about to happen so she returned to China.

That was when she met her now husband, Pan Shiyi, a real estate developer. They married after four days since they first met and then went into business together. But things didn't turn out well at first that they had to separate.

Eventually, they got back together and she decided to just stay at home. However, the business was booming that it required her to come back to work. Zhang had since been in charge of hiring the world's best architects and raising money abroad while Pan focuses on the work inside China.

The success of SOHO

For over 20 years in real estate, Zhang and her husband Pan have made SOHO China the largest prime office property developer in Beijing and China with over $10 billion in assets and 5.4 million square meters in developments. That's way more than the buildings built by any emperor in Chinese history!

Even at that rate, Zhang still sees to it that she scrutinizes even the smallest details of each of their projects. She told CNBC, "I’m the one who's safeguarding the standard, and I really should be the one who goes for the best."

For more details about SOHO, visit

Watch Zhang Xin's interview below:

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