Property mogul Wang Shi calls on China’s entrepreneurs to speak out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 10:18am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 11:12am

Chinese property tycoon and internet celebrity Wang Shi has urged China’s entrepreneurs to speak out more often in order to facilitate social reforms and to better protect their own interests.

Wang, 63, the founder and chairman of Shenzhen-based Vanke Group, said in an interview with The Beijing News ahead of his new book’s debut next month that China’s entrepreneurs, who he believed to have emerged as new social class, could potentially be the crucial force to push society forward.

He cited what occurred in Japan during the Meiji Restoration in 1800’s, an era when Japan ascended from a backward agricultural society to join the ranks of the world’s most powerful industrialised nations, but warned the biggest problem for China’s entrepreneurial class lies in its lack of independence.

“Until today, [our] thinking is not independent … We have a dependent mentality, that is to say [with] the collusions with officials. This is a tremendous problem for us,” Wang was quoted as saying.

“We ought to speak up [as a whole] like a social class … seek self-protection and pursue for our own rights,” he added.

Wang is among the best known property tycoons in China. His successful climb of Mount Everest and his controversial divorce from his wife in 2012 for a 32-year-old actress have raised eyebrows, triggering wide public debate.

In the interview he added that entrepreneurs can play a crucial role in the society by involving themselves in social organisations, but suggested they might have to “quit their business to avoid conflict of interests”.

Wang also commented on his business reputation as “one who doesn’t bribe”.

“No entrepreneur ever publicly admits to bribing, but few dare to openly claim they don’t either,” Wang said. “It’s easy not to bribe. But it’s not so easy to keep a business running at the same time.”

China’s property industry is well known for being a hotbed of corruption and bribery. The business involves extensive dealings with government officials because it often involves the transfer of collectively- or state-owned land to developers.

Wang is also an outspoken online celebrity, with over 20 million followers on China’s thriving social networking websites.