China news: Boy grows up in ‘financial difficulty’, learns after graduation father owns ₹692-crore business

Zhang Zilong learned of his family’s vast wealth only after completing his university education. For years, he was under the impression that his family was struggling with debt due to the financial demands of running their business.

His father, Zhang Yudong established Mala Prince in the same year his son was born 24 years back. Annually, the leading Hunan spicy gluten snack brand churns out products valued at roughly 600 million yuan ( 692 crore), as per South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Despite the brand’s success, the younger Zhang grew up in modest surroundings in Pingjiang County, Hunan province in China. He would believe his family was in financial difficulty.

He even attended a prestigious secondary school in Changsha, the province’s capital, without leveraging any family connections. After graduation, Zhang Jr. harboured simple aspirations: securing a job with a salary sufficient to aid his family in overcoming their supposed debt.

The revelation of their true financial status came as a shock to him after university, when his family upgraded to a luxurious villa valued at 10 million yuan ( 11.5 crore). He entered the family business and joined the e-commerce sector. However, he received no special treatment from his colleagues.

Despite his newfound wealth, Zhang Jr. expressed a desire to steer clear of becoming a ‘fu er dai’ or a stereotypical second-generation rich individual, a term often used pejoratively in China.

His ambitions have since evolved; he aims to take the company public and expand its reach to international markets. His father has stipulated that ownership of the company would pass to him only if he proves his mettle.

Netizens react

The story has garnered reactions online on Douyin, the original version of the app that is internationally known as TikTok. The app is available only in China.

“The way he speaks and looks seems honest and down-to-earth. His family educated him very well,” said one user.

“What a fairy tale. The ordinary frog turns into the Mala prince,” said another person.

“I believe the story. The brand only started advertising itself in recent years. It must be because the prince graduated and there was no need to hide any more,” said a third person.

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Published: 26 Mar 2024, 02:37 PM IST