“Chan Laiwa: A Family’s Rise to Billionaire Status”

Chan Laiwa family 1 1

Chan Laiwa and Family: A Story of Perseverance and Success


Chan Laiwa, also known as Chen Lihua, is a Chinese billionaire with a net worth of $5.6 billion, as estimated by Forbes in 2021. She is the founder and chairwoman of Fu Wah International Group, a Beijing-based conglomerate with holdings in real estate, hospitality, arts, and financial services. In addition to her business ventures, Chan is also a prominent philanthropist and art collector, having built one of the largest private art museums in the world.

Early Life and Education

Born in 1941 in Beijing, Chan was the daughter of a prominent businessman and a former government official. Her father, Chan Chak-fu, was the founder of the Hua Yuan Group, a construction and real estate company that had built many of the key infrastructure projects in northern China. Growing up in a privileged family, Chan had access to the best education and cultural resources. She attended The Affiliated High School of Peking University, one of the top schools in China, and later studied history at the University of Beijing.

However, Chan’s early years were also marked by political upheavals and personal tragedies. During the Cultural Revolution, her father was branded a “capitalist roader” and imprisoned, and her family’s assets were confiscated. Chan herself was sent to a labor camp, where she worked as a farmhand and suffered from malnourishment and illness. Her mother died in 1966, and her father died two years later, never having regained his freedom.

Career and Achievements

After the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, Chan returned to Beijing and began her career in real estate. With her father’s legacy in mind, she founded Hua Yuan Group, which specialized in construction and property development. Over the next few years, Chan grew the business into one of the leading players in the industry, with projects throughout China.

In 1988, Chan founded Fu Wah International Group, which diversified the company’s portfolio beyond real estate. Under her leadership, Fu Wah expanded into hotels, resorts, cultural institutions, and financial services. The company’s most famous project is the Beijing CBD International Mansion, a 55-story skyscraper that was completed in 1999 and became an icon of the city’s modernization.

Throughout her career, Chan has been recognized for her business acumen and leadership. She has won numerous awards and accolades, including being named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune magazine in 2006. She has also been an active philanthropist, donating large sums to education, healthcare, and cultural heritage preservation. In 2011, she opened the Chan Laiwa Art Museum in Beijing, which houses over 6,000 artworks from China and around the world.

Personal Life

Chan Laiwa is a private person who rarely speaks to the media or attends public events. She has been married twice and has three children. Her son, Timothy Chen, is the CEO of Fu Wah International Group and is widely considered to be her successor in business.


Name: Chan Laiwa (Chen Lihua)
Born: 1941 in Beijing, China
Country: China
Sector: Real estate, hospitality, arts, financial services
Companies: Fu Wah International Group, Hua Yuan Group
Net Worth: US$5.6 billion (Forbes)
"Elizabeth Johnson: Trailblazer of Feminist Theology"
"Alexandre Behring: A Life of Corporate Success"