Zong Qinghou (Chinese: 宗庆后; born 1945) is a Chinese Entrepreneur, founder, Chairman and CEO of the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, the leading beverage company in China. He was ranked as China's richest man of 2012 and second-richest man of 2013, according to the China Rich List, published by Hurun Report. On the Global Rich List, he is 35th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$20 billion., Zong is a delegate to the Chinese National People's Congress.
Zong is a native of Zhejiang, and has had little formal education. After graduating from secondary school, Zong worked at the Zhoushan salt farm. He returned home in 1979 on the retirement of his mother, who was a Teacher. He eventually returned to Hangzhou, and only found menial work at a local school due to the low level of his education. In 1987, he targeted a minigrocery in a school in Shangcheng District，Hangzhou, selling milk. Zong headed the embryonic Wahaha Business, which distributed fizzy soft drinks, ice and stationery. Together with two retired schoolteachers, he borrowed the sum of CNY 140,000, to start producing milk drinks for distribution.
The WHH joint venture entered into with Groupe Danone involved the inward investment of US$70 million in five joint venture companies in exchange for 51% Groupe Danone ownership in each company. The trademark agreement signed on 29 February 1996 gave the JVs the exclusive rights of production, distribution and sales of products under the Wahaha brand. Collaboration has grown into 39 joint venture entities by 2007.
Zong has served as a delegate to the Chinese National People's Congress since 2002. He was re-elected in 2007.
In 2007, the relationship turned sour. Danone had accused Wahaha of "secretly operating a set of parallel companies that mirrored the joint venture’s operations with virtually identical products and siphoned off as much as $100 million from the partnership." Danone and Wahaha reached a settlement and dissolved their partnership. Zong resigned as Chairman of the joint ventures on 5 June 2007.
Caijing reported in April 2008 that Zong was being investigated for allegedly evading taxes amounting to some ¥ 300 million. An investigator had alleged that Zong "...earned far more than this and hasn't fully reported the tax for years". Caijing implied there may have been less than transparent payments through web of Hong Kong-registered accounts of Zong, Shi, daughter Fuli; and the former Party secretary of Wahaha, Du Jianying. Zong had apparently paid more than 200 million yuan in back taxes in October 2007, after the investigation kicked off. However, the magazine suspected Zong still owed millions more.
Forbes named Zong as China's richest man in 2010.