"Hard work makes me wealthiest"

Updated: 2006-11-07 21:09

HONG KONG - China's wealthiest woman, Zhang Yin, says she has grown rich through honest, hard work - and has nothing to hide.

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Zhang, 49, founder of China's biggest packaging manufacturer, Nine Dragons Paper Co., said Tuesday that her company's finances are completely open.

"I earned every single cent," she said at a question-and-answer gathering with reporters in Hong Kong.

"As a listed company, Nine Dragon's figures could be accessed by anyone who looks at its report card," she told reporters. "You can see our shares are going up. All the figures are transparent."

Zhang was ranked No. 5 on a list of China's richest businesspeople released last week by the business magazine Forbes, which put her fortune at US$1.5 billion (euro1.18 billion).

She was named China's richest person on a competing list released in October by journalist Rupert Hoogewerf, who used to compile Forbes' rankings. Forbes said it calculated Zhang's wealth separately from the stakes that her husband and brother own in Nine Dragons. If their holdings were added together, the family would be No. 1 on the Forbes list.

Several high-profile tycoons who have made China's rich list fell from grace when investigators found they amassed their wealth through illegal or dubious means.

Shanghai real-estate and highway millionaire Zhang Rongkun, reported by Forbes to be China's 16th-wealthiest businessman in 2005, was arrested in a sweeping probe into alleged corruption and misuse of city pension funds.

Another real estate tycoon hit by scandal, Zhou Zhengyi, also known as Chau Ching-ngai, was once ranked as China's 11th-richest man by Forbes. He served a three-year sentence after he was detained in 2003 for fraud and stock manipulation.

Most recently, 37-year-old appliance merchant Wong Kwong-yu, named China's richest by Forbes, was reportedly under investigation for illegal loans. Wong's retail chain, Gome Appliances, said it received no notice of such probes.

Paper tycoon Zhang, the eldest of eight children born to a military family, emigrated to Hong Kong in the early 1980s and built up her business shipping waste paper from the U.S. to China, where it is recycled into containerboard.

Her company, Nine Dragons, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in March.

It recently saw its share price surge after reporting that its fiscal 2006 net profit more than quadrupled to 1.38 billion Chinese yuan (US$175 million; euro137 million).

Zhang, who said she learned the importance of credit reputation when doing business in the U.S., said other Chinese companies seeking to go global must live up to international professional standards.

"The most important thing is to abide by international regulations. Before we move into the international market we must prepare ourselves with long-term plans and be sure we can deliver results," she said.

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