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Chinese soft-drink tycoon injured in knife attack
Publication Date : 19-09-2013
Soft-drink tycoon and China's second-richest man Zong Qinghou has been injured in a knife attack that left him with severed tendons in his hand.
The 67-year-old was assaulted last Friday in a residential area near his home in Hangzhou city in coastal Zhejiang province.
The local police arrested a suspect surnamed Yang on the same day, reported Xinhua news agency, soon after news first broke Wednesday morning about the attack on Zong.
Various news reports, quoting sources, said initially that Zong was the target of an alleged revenge attack stemming from the dismissal of several executives at his Wahaha group, which means "laughing baby" in Chinese. It is China's largest beverage maker.
But the Hangzhou police were quoted in the Xinhua report as saying that Zong was attacked after he rejected the suspect's request for a job. The man, 49, is unemployed and a native of neighbouring Jiangsu province.
"The suspect said he had approached Zong Qinghou for help after watching TV interviews of the tycoon talking about his efforts in helping migrant workers.
"So he went to Zong's house to look for him, but when his request for help was rejected, the suspect carried out the illegal activity," said Xinhua in its report.
The extent of Zong's injuries is unclear.
Shenzhen-based Hong Kong Commercial Daily said earlier on Wednesday that Zong had four severed tendons in his left hand and had undergone surgery in Hangzhou, while Xinhua said that the tendons and muscles in two of Zong's fingers were hurt.
But Zong, who is said to be back at work, has reportedly described the assault as an accident and said that his wound was not severe. The tycoon does not travel with bodyguards, according to reports.
One of China's several famous rags-to-riches magnates, Zong started out selling soft drinks and popsicles to children in a school grocery store in 1987.
Later, together with two retired teachers, he started the Wahaha factory to make nutritional drinks for children. He had help from relatives who lent him money for the venture.
His Wahaha group, which hires 30,000 people and has some 32 billion yuan (US$5.2 billion) in fixed assets, raked in 63.63 billion yuan ($10.4 billion) in revenue last year.
The attack is the second "setback" for Zong, a chain-smoking member of China's national legislature who claims he spends just $20 a day.
Married with a daughter, Zong was ranked China's wealthiest man in 2010 and last year, but has just lost the spot this year to property mogul Wang Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda group.
Forbes magazine estimates Zong's wealth to be $11 billion, trailing Wang's $14.2 billion.