Vanke founder Wang Shi is offering advice for Chinese society, and his recommendation is that the country’s entrepreneurs need to play a bigger role in deciding the country’s future.
Since resigning as CEO of China’s largest real estate developer in 2011, Wang Shi, has become more vocal concerning Chinese social and business issues. Last year, the entrepreneur, who remains Chairman of Vanke, spoke out about the need for businessmen to take a stand on political issues, and has warned of the dangers to China’s economy from an overheated real estate sector.
Now the real estate maverick is promoting his new book, “The Right Way” (大道当然）and says that China’s businesspeople need to stop following the government and start providing leadership if China is to develop.
In an interview with the Beijing News, the 63-year-old who is currently studying at Harvard University as a scholar-in-residence, compared China’s current situation with Japan at the moment of the Meiji Restoration, when that nation transformed itself from an agricultural economy into a modern industrialized state.
For China to make a similar jump, Wang believes that the country’s successful businesspeople need to play a bigger role in decision-making. “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.
However, Wang did note that separating yourself from the government might require that business leaders “quit their business to avoid conflict of interests”.
Vanke has been among China’s most active foreign investors, and the firm established a joint venture with US developer Tishman Speyer last year to pursue a residential project in San Francisco. The company also expanded into finance late last year by purchasing up to 883,986,000 shares of Huishang Bank as part of the bank’s IPO.
Wang is among China’s best known entrepreneurs and has seized public attention as much for his interests outside of business as for the success of Vanke.
After first climbing Mount Everest in 2003, Wang has now climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents of the world. Vanke’s chairman also made headlines in 2012 when he divorced his wife to spend more time with his 32-year-old actress girlfriend.
Wang’s outspokeness is a contrast to the traditional low profile of Chinese businessmen, and it has helped him earn more than 20 million followers on China’s Weibo micro-blog service.