China is one of the most progressive and advanced countries in the world. All of China’s success is courtesy of its great people who have made tremendous strides in different industries – whether in tech, sports, film, leadership, engineering, and many more.
Get to know 20 of the most famous Chinese people who have made contributions in China’s honor! This list is in no particular order.
1) Confucius – Philosopher
Confucius is an influential figure in Chinese history and the founder of Confucianism. He wrote many books about governance, intellect, virtue, and morality. Confucianism has greatly influenced the Chinese culture’s ancestor worship, love for family, and loyalty.
A 72 metre brass statue of Confucius was unveiled in eastern China’s Shandong Province during the 2018 Mid-Autumn Festival. Confucius was born in Nishan, in the city of Qufu, China’s Shandong Province.
2) Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – First President Of The Republic Of China
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was the founder of the Republic of China (not to be mistaken with the People’s Republic of China). Sun was a great medical practitioner and is popular for his political philosophy composed of three principles: nationalism, democracy, and livelihood.
Sun Yat-sen University was founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and with an educational tradition spanning over 100 years.
3) Mao Zedong – Former Chairman Of The People’s Republic Of China
Mao Zedong is a name that will be forever engraved in Chinese political history. He is the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. He united all of China under one government and developed China into an economic and military superpower. Mao Zedong’s ideologies live on through Maoism.
Mao Zedong is a revered figure in Chinese history. His embalmed body lies within a mausoleum in the center of sprawling Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing.
4) Deng Xiaoping – Politician
Deng Xiaoping is another notable Chinese leader. He became the leader of China after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. Deng led China’s reform and liberalization. He opened China to foreign investments, established ties with Western countries, and started modernization in the country.
Former Chinese leader Mao Zedong nicknamed Deng Xiaoping as “Xiaogangpao”(small-sized gun, referring to a frank and out-spoken person) for his honest and direct style of talking.
5) I.M Pei – Architect
Pei is a famous Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese architect who built some of the world’s most iconic buildings. This includes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Louvre Pyramid, and the Kennedy library. He also did work on Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and designed the Fragrant Hill Hotel in China.
The Louvre’s monumental glass pyramid has boosted visitor numbers from 3.5 million in 1989 to more than 10 million in 2019.
6) Bruce Lee – Martial Artist, Actor
Bruce Lee is a world-renowned legend in martial arts. He is also a famous actor who was known for his fast fighting techniques, facial expression, and grunts. Lee introduced Kung Fu to western films and paved the way for modern mixed martial arts (MMA).
Fight scene in the Fist of Fury released in 1972, Bruce Lee’s second major role.
7) Yao Ming – Basketball Player
One of the most famous basketball players of all time! Yao Ming is also everyone’s favorite Chinese tall guy. He played for the Houston Rockets at the NBA, was a FIBA Asia three-time champion and top Chinese celebrity by Forbes for six consecutive years. Aside from basketball, Yao is best known for his great sense of humor, often exchanging jokes with his good friend Shaquille O’Neal.
Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O’Neal helps fellow inductee Yao Ming with his jacket during a news conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
8) Jack Ma – Alibaba Founder
Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba, a multi-million company based in China. Jack Ma’s rags to riches story continues to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs across the world. He is a pioneer in the online market industry has won several awards from world-renowned magazines such as Forbes and Times.
Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce titan Alibaba shares his thoughts on 996. Do you agree with him?
9) Xi Jinping – Current President Of The PRC
Xi Jinping is the current president of the PRC. He is one of the most powerful political leaders in the world today. Under his leadership, he relentlessly campaigned to crack down on corruption, enforce loyalty to the country, eliminate poverty, strengthen the military and develop world-class universities. Xi is best known for the Belt and Road Initiative which saw China soar higher in terms of economic power.
Xi Jinping is widely credited with the slogan Chinese Dream – a set of personal and national ideals for the advancement of Chinese society.
10) Jackie Chan – Popular Hollywood Actor, Martial Artist, Film Producer, and Director
Jackie Chan is one of the most popular actors of this generation. He is a jack of all trades and a multi-talented film artist. Chan has appeared in more than 150 films. He does his own stunts and has impeccable comic timing. Chan is also a legend in martial arts and acrobatics.
One of Jackie Chan’s top-grossing Films, The Karate Kid where he plays “Mr. Han” with Jaden Smith as “Dre Parker”. Mr. Han teaches Dre all about kung fu in the hope that Dre will be able to face down Cheng, a bully in school.
11) Liu Chuanzhi – Founder Of Lenovo
Liu Chuanzhi is the maker of Lenovo, a Chinese multinational technology company. Founded in 1984 as a small computer seller in 1984, Lenovo has grown into the world’s leading makers of personal computers under Li Chuanzhi’s leadership.
Liu Chuanzhi announced his retirement as chairman of Lenovo’s parent company Legend Holdings in December 2019.
12) Dilraba Dilmurat – Actress
Dilraba Dilmurat is a Chinese actress and one of the most beautiful faces in Chinese television. She rose to fame in the popular C-drama, Diamond Lover. She has gained fame in Chinese entertainment as well as international acclaim.
Dilraba Dilmurat is one of China’s most beautiful actresses since getting her big break on 2017’s Pretty Li Hui Zhen.
13) Jet Li – Hollywood Film Star
Like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Jet Li is a film star and a world champion martial artist. He won his first national championship in martial arts at the age of 11 and has visited over 45 countries because of the sport. Li is known for his roles in Shaolin Temple, Forbidden Kingdom and Romeo Must Die.
At the age of 11, Li won his first national championship in wushu.
14) Ren Zhengfei – Founder And CEO Of Huawei
Ren Zhengfei is the founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies, the world’s biggest telecommunications maker and a leading smartphone brand. He is one of the most influential business leaders in China.
Mr. Ren Zhengfei established Huawei in 1987 with a capital investment of CNY21000.
15) Fan Bingbing – Actress
Fan Bingbing is one of China’s biggest stars. She is one of the most sought-after actresses in China has starred in several international films such as X-Men: Days of Future Past. Fan is also a fashion icon and philanthropist.
Fan Bingbing plays Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
16) Charles Kao – Father Of Fiber Optics
Charles Kao is the creator of fiber optics in telecommunications. His work in fiber optics research paved the way for all major communication routes to have a solid foundation. Thanks to Charles Kao, we have instant messengers, electronic commerce, and cellphones. Kao’s groundwork served as the fuel for the information revolution.
Charles Kuen Kao passed away aged 84 on September 23, 2018.
17) Vera Wang – Fashion Designer
Vera Wang is a well-known international fashion designer of Chinese descent. Her iconic wedding gown collections have been worn by the biggest Hollywood stars and personalities like Alicia Keys, Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey, Michelle Obama, and more.
Vera Wang is popular for dressing some of the biggest celebrities.
18) Ma Huateng – Founder of Tencent
“Pony” Ma Huateng is the founder of Tencent, the largest internet provider in China. He is China’s richest man according to Forbes. The wildly popular all-in-one mobile application Weixin/WeChat is a fully-owned subsidiary and product of Tencent.
Tencent’s Ma Huateng overtakes Jack Ma as China’s richest again amid coronavirus lockdowns.
19) Eric Yuan – Founder And CEO Of Zoom
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a global remote-working setup. Zoom has since been at the forefront of making communication easier and more accessible. Zoom has made more than US$12 billion since March and Yuan is now ranked one of the 400 richest people in America.
“When I wake up, I always think about, ‘Hey, what can I do differently today?’” This is one question Zoom CEO Eric Yuan asks himself every morning and evening for business success.
20) Zhang Zi Yi – Actress
Zhang Ziyi is one of the four Dan actresses of China, which means four of the most celebrated actresses. She has starred in some of the most popular films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hollywood movie Rush Hour 2, and the highly awarded Memoirs of a Geisha.
Zhang Ziyi with Michelle Yeoh (another Hollywood Chinese actress who recently starred in Crazy Rich Asians) in the multi-awarded film Memoirs of a Geisha.
Learn Chinese Online!
Do you want to experience Chinese culture and traditions? Our top suggestion is to come to China and immerse in the community, but we all know it’s not possible right now. China’s borders are still closed for tourists. (for updates on COVID travel, check here!)
The good news is, you can still experience everything China has to offer from afar by learning Chinese online! Check out our top list of affordable Online Chinese Language Programs that will help you speak Chinese fast and even give you a peek of China. For help studying remotely, read Best FREE Ways to Self-Study Chinese Online.
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