China News Service, Hangzhou, February 26th: Question: Zong Qinghou, a generation of Zhejiang businessmen, passed away. Why do people remember him?

  Author Xi Jinyan

  At No. 160 Qingtai Street, Hangzhou, there is a gray-white old-fashioned small building. It is not impressive in appearance, but it is the starting point of the life coordinates of a generation of Zhejiang businessman Zong Qinghou.

Now, the place is surrounded by bunches of flowers, and the cold wind passes through people's hearts, stirring up endless sorrow.

  On the 25th, Wahaha Group issued an obituary. Zong Qinghou, the founder and chairman of the group, passed away at 10:30 on February 25, 2024 at the age of 79 due to ineffective treatment.

After learning the news, many people braved the cold wind and came to the old site of Wahaha headquarters to lay flowers in memory of this legendary Zhejiang businessman.

On the afternoon of February 25, people came to lay flowers at the former site of Wahaha headquarters.

Photo by Wang Gang

  Entrepreneurs such as Lei Jun, founder of Xiaomi Group, Zhou Hongyi, founder of 360 Group, Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holding Group, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, also paid tribute to him.

  Why do people remember him so much?

This is inseparable from Zong Qinghou’s entrepreneurial experience and feelings about his family and country.

  Zong Qinghou, born in 1945, is a typical first-generation Zhejiang businessman.

He recalled in his book "An Oral History of Zhejiang's 40 Years of Reform and Opening Up" that when he was a child, his father did not have a job and his mother's salary had to support five children.

After graduating from junior high school at the age of 17, she worked at Mamu Farm in Zhoushan and tea farms in Shaoxing for 15 years. In 1978, her mother retired from her job and returned to Hangzhou to become a carton factory worker.

  In 1987, riding on the spring breeze of reform and opening up, Zong Qinghou borrowed 140,000 yuan (RMB, the same below) to start Wahaha from scratch. Over the past 30 years, he worked hard and innovated continuously, becoming China's richest man three times.

The drinks he created, such as Wahaha purified water and AD calcium milk, have accompanied the growth of countless "post-90s" and "post-00s" in China.

  Therefore, in the eyes of many young people, Wahaha is not only a national drink, but also a taste of childhood that has never passed away.

Now at the old site of Wahaha's headquarters, many young people spontaneously sent flowers, AD calcium milk, and left messages, "Thank you Wahaha for accompanying me all the way, and I wish you a happy journey."

  Zong Qinghou's sudden passing also made many Zhejiang businessmen regret it.

As a benchmark figure among Zhejiang merchants, Zong Qinghou has been working hard for his family and country all his life.

Even though he is enjoying his old age, he still wears "a pair of cloth shoes" to run on the front line, just like when he first started his business.

  For more than 30 years, Zong Qinghou has responded to the country's call and adhered to industry, investing and setting up factories in central and western China, establishing 76 branches, directly employing 13,000 people, and driving local development.

  While running a good business, Zong Qinghou did not forget to "share wealth". On the one hand, he increased the income of employees, insisted on allocating housing for employees, and strived to make employees "live and work in peace and contentment"; on the other hand, he provided long-term student aid and assisted the construction of 23 Hope Primary Schools. , helping more than 50,000 needy students realize their college dreams.

  Although he "spends a lot of money" on the cause of mutual wealth, Zong Qinghou is very simple in life, and only eats in the office.

These days, pictures and videos of Zong Qinghou flying in economy class on airplanes and in second-class seats on high-speed trains have become popular on the Internet again. The contrast between his aura as the "richest man" and his simple life has made netizens affectionately call him "cloth shoes" Boss".

  Despite having multiple labels on his body, Zong Qinghou claimed to be an ordinary person, a mortal who rose from the bottom.

“Gather small families, develop everyone, and serve the country”, “Only when wealth helps more people to get rich together will the wealth of entrepreneurs be respected”… Zong Qinghou is gone, but these “golden words” of his are still there. spread.