Zhang Xin’s journey from rags to riches

How a factory worker became the world’s richest self-made woman, and a font of advice on China’s property market.

Few individuals personify the miraculous rise of China as well as Zhang Xin. She started out as a penniless sweatshop worker who defied odds by making her way into Cambridge University and later to Wall Street. She predicted that China’s fast growing economy would need the support of real estate and co-founded Soho China with her husband in 1995. Today, the company is one of the largest developers in China and Zhang one of the world’s wealthiest self-made women.

The 46-year-old said, after having lived through periods of change in China and studied and worked in the West, she understands China better. She appreciates the tribulation of...

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