Fortune: $10.76 billion
Company: Hangzhou Wahaha
Zong Qinghou is the richest member of China's legislature and wealthiest person in China. He is chairman and CEO of China's largest beverage producer - the Hangzhou Wahaha Group.
Zong founded the drinks maker as an elementary school shop in the eastern city of Hangzhou in 1987 with a loan of $22,000. The firm now has about 200 subsidiary companies, which also include children's clothing, and 40 manufacturing bases across China.
Wahaha has a 15 percent market share of China's soft drinks market and sales for its children's clothing line top nearly $1 billion a year. In 2010, group sales touched $8.6 billion. Zong announced in 2011 that the firm would build 100 hypermarkets in China over the next few years to compete with retail giants Wal-Mart and Carrefour.
A key Chinese political figure and a member of the NPC since 2002, Zong is no stranger to controversy. The tycoon made headlines in 2009 when his company ended its partnership with French food group Danone. The high-profile legal battle led to mediation by the Chinese and French governments and saw Danone sell its 51 percent stake in its China joint venture to Wahaha. In 2008, Zong was reportedly investigated for income tax evasion to the tune of $42.9 million over the past 10 years. A Caijing report at the time said the billionaire had already paid over $30 million since the investigation began, but still owed millions to the government.
A deputy in the NPC, Zong got a lot of local media attention in March when he said the Chinese government should cut taxes and allow private investment in more industries. He has also called for further reform on personal income tax, saying the tax threshold needs to be increased further, giving the Chinese people more money to spend.
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