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Wanda Philosophy inspires China's next generation of entreprenuers


Hong Kong's South China Morning Post recently published an article titled "Rise of entrepreneur worship in China encourages more people to set up shop". For the full article please see below: 

In Shanghai Book City, the largest bookstore in town, Stephen Ding stands in front of a shelf in the “business management” section, carefully comparing a handful of books.

In his hands are books about China’s richest man and Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin, Alibaba founder Ma Yun, property tycoon Feng Lun, and Hong Kong multibillionaire Li Ka-shing.

Eventually, he decides on Wanda Philosophy, written by Wang about himself and his property conglomerate.

“I’m interested in these four entrepreneurs,” Ding, a Shanghai-based salesman, says.

“But Wanda Philosophy is written by Wang, while the others aren’t written by the entrepreneurs themselves. So I think Wang’s book can give me some real insight into his thoughts.

“I’ll analyse his experiences and ideas, and will borrow those parts that are suitable for me.”

A few steps from Ding is Yan Bin, seated on the ground, deeply engrossed as he studies a book on the internal management of Chinese computer giant Lenovo.

Having owned a small IT equipment store that closed down a few years ago, Yan said he wanted to get some tips on how to control business costs.

“The entrepreneur I admire the most is [online game developer Giant Interactive chairman] Shi Yuzhu because he would never be defeated by career setbacks,” Yan said.

“He was once among China’s richest men only to have his business empire collapse suddenly. But he stood up from where he fell down and moved on. Later, he built another great company.”

Ding’s and Yan’s views reflect the Chinese society’s growing tendency towards “entrepreneur worship”.

Interest in successful entrepreneurs has risen over the past few years as China’s private companies grew in influence and state leaders encouraged young people to set up their own businesses.

But entrepreneurs have not always been looked up to in China.

In fact, Chinese people used to look down on them. There is even a proverb that says every businessman is crafty and every crafty person should become a businessman.

As a result of a policy of promoting agriculture and restraining commerce adopted by China’s feudal dynasties, for a long time in the country’s history, business people were at the lowest level on the social hierarchy, below intellectuals, government officials and farmers.

After the country opened up and undertook reforms, people were gradually allowed to do business – but the job was usually taken up only by those who could not find other work.

At the time, people thought of entrepreneurs as being “pot-bellied” and having “a mouth full of gold teeth”, according to a survey by Horizon Research Consultancy Group.

But this impression has since changed drastically – and for the better, the group says.

About 40 per cent of those Horizon polled in April believed entrepreneurs possessed leadership skills. Some 37 per cent said such people had “vision” and 36 per cent felt they were “hardworking”.

Chen Lijun, general manager of the book business unit of China’s largest online book distributor, said the company’s sales of entrepreneur-themed books surged 50 per cent...