China's 'ordinary' billionaire behind grand Nicaragua canal plan

Sun May 4, 2014 5:15pm EDT
 
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By Matthew Miller

BEIJING (Reuters) - Wang Jing, the enigmatic businessman behind Nicaragua's $50 billion Interoceanic Grand Canal, shrugs off scepticism about how a little-known entrepreneur can be driving a huge transcontinental project, insisting he's not an agent of the Beijing government.

"I know you don't believe me," said Wang, who reckons that he's forked-out about $100 million in canal preparation work, and is burning as much as $10 million a month on the project.

"You believe there are people from the Chinese government in the background providing support. Why, in the end, is only Wang Jing out front?"

High-ranking Chinese officials including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and former leaders Jiang Zemin and Wen Jiabao have all visited the state-connected wireless communication technologies company Wang took control of four years ago.

Wang, whose entrepreneurism went mostly unnoticed in China and elsewhere before last year's Nicaragua announcement and a subsequent $3 billion Black Sea port development plan, has not helped matters by refusing to talk in detail about himself or broad swathes of his career.

During two interviews at the headquarters of Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology Inc and in several follow-up emails, the 41-year-old Wang discussed Nicaragua, Beijing Xinwei's recent deal to undertake the biggest reverse takeover in Chinese stock market history and his background, providing fresh details to a life that remains mysterious.

"I was born in December 1972 in Beijing," said Wang. "All these years I've lived a very ordinary life."

HIGH-WIRE ACT   Continued...

 
Wang Jing, HKND Group chairman, listens to a question at a news conference in Beijing, June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee