In Shan Weijian’s memoir, the Cultural Revolution is the catalyst to a global financial career

As chairman of the PAG Group, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm managing assets of over 30 billion USD, Shan Weijian’s present life is a far cry from his former job as a brick-maker in the Gobi Desert—and a subway construction worker, farmer, mason, electrician, and barefoot doctor during China’s turbulent 1960s and 70s.

These latter experiences are the focus of Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America, published in February. In the Beijing native’s recollections of his life, the seeds of his meteoric rise in the global business world, as well as the lauded financial career in both the US and China, are said to have been planted in the unforgiving Gobi soils during the most economically disruptive years of revolution.

The book begins with a detailed account of how Shan, the child of government officials and star elementary-school student, becomes a farm laborer in Inner Mongolia’s Construction Army Corps, charged with the near-impossible task of growing crops in the desert.

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Emily Conrad is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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