In an article this spring about China's recovery from the world slowdown, I mentioned a visit to the BYD company in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, where a materials-science PhD named Wang Chuanfu was leading the development of advanced battery powered cars.
On that trip I also visited the nice-but-nothing-fancy dorm-style
quarters where Wang and the rest of the BYD management lived. Here's
the punchline from that article (with a shot of Wang from the press
conference in December announcing his new cars):
"The company's official goal is to be the biggest automaker in China by
2015, and the biggest in the world by 2025. Wang's unveiling of the car
in Shenzhen coincided with U.S. congressional debate about emergency
aid to GM and Chrysler. I asked Wang if he had any tips for the U.S.
companies. He is a quiet, nerdish man who seemed to blanch as he heard
the question translated. "For 100 years, nothing has changed in
Detroit," he finally said (through the interpreter). "I think they need
to reconsider their product lines."
Now, according to this report, Wang has become the richest man in China, thanks to a rise in BYD stock and a stake from Warren Buffett. That is a volatile distinction, with people's fortunes rising and falling, but impressive as an up-from-nothing manufacturing success story.
And in this article in 2007, I discussed the amazing Chinese "reality" show Win in China, which was a kind of super-capitalist version of The Apprentice. One of the finalists in the show was an earthy, non-college-grad character named Zhou Yu and generally known as the "Lone Wolf." Ole Schell, who has made a great new documentary about Win In China, has just posted an online report about the Wolf and his lingerie factory in Shandong province. Congrats all around.
The moment of truth on the show, as the Wolf dutifully claps for the just-announced winner, Song "Social Conscience" Wenming, who raises his hands in victory.