Wang Jianlin was born on October 24, 1954, in Cangxi County, Guangyuan, Sichuan, China. His Father fought for Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army during the Long March (October 1934–October 1935).
At the age of 15, Wang started his 17-year Service with the People's Liberation Army, initially as a border guard before rising to become a regimental commander. In 1976, he joined the Communist Party of China. He served as deputy to the 17th National Congress.
After sixteen years in the People's Liberation Army, Wang started working as the Office Administrator for the Xigang District in the city of Dalian. In 1989, he became the General Manager of Xigang Residential Development. He was Head of Factory in a Jiangyin-based factory. In 1992, he started working as the Chairman for the Dalian Wanda Group. He has also been serving as Assistant to the Regional Manager, Assistant Regional Manager and Director in Jiangsu Jiangnan Water Co.
In 2011, he donated US$197 million to charitable causes, such as underwriting the restoration of an ancient temple in Nanjing. In 2014-2015 he donated US$200,000 for the restoration of the Electric Fountain in Beverly Hills, California.
His company owns 21.57 million square metres of investment property, 168 Wanda Shopping Plazas, 82 luxury hotels, 213 cinemas, 99 department stores, and 54 karaoke centres around China. The company became the world's largest theatre owner in 2012 when it acquired AMC Theatres. He bought out U.S.-based AMC Entertainment for US$2.6 billion. He listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in December. He flew in celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, and John Travolta to help launch an US$8 billion mini-Hollywood in the coastal city of Qingdao in January 2014.
The previous year, Forbes ranked him the 128th richest person in the world, with US$8.6 billion. In August 2013, he was listed as the wealthiest person in China with a net worth of US$14.2 billion by Bloomberg. In September 2013, his net worth rose to US$22 billion, according to numbers of the Hurun Report.
According to the Hurun Report, in 2014 he was the 25th richest person in the world with US$25 billion.
In July 2016 Wang Jianlin's book The Wanda Way: The managerial philosophy and values of one of China's largest companies was published globally by LID Publishing. The book includes his renowned 2013 ChinaCentral Television Voice interview, his speech and question-and-answer session to the Harvard Business School, and Wang Jianlin's Business philosophy on Wanda's real estate, resort, and movie units. In 2016, Wang picked a fight with Disney by declaring that he wants to make sure the Magic Kingdom doesn't make any money in China.
As of February 2018, Wang is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $30.1 billion, making him one of the richest men in China and Asia.