Chen Chiang, the founder of Chen Hsong Holdings Ltd., one of China's largest injection molding machine makers, died March 13. He was 100.
A statement from the company said Chiang, who founded the plastics manufacturing giant in 1958 in what was, at the time, the British colony of Hong Kong, died in the company of family.
Chiang's personal story mirrored that of modern China. He was born to a poor family in Shandong province and orphaned when he was 10.
He immigrated to Hong Kong with a brother in 1949, when Mao Zedong and the Chinese communists won the country's civil war.
Eventually, he started and built Chen Hsong into a prominent plastics machinery manufacturing firm and in 1986 became one of the first Hong Kong industrialists to open a joint venture factory in mainland China, starting with an injection press plant in neighboring Guangdong province.
But it was what he did next that seemed to attract more attention: In 1990, Chiang donated his holdings in the company to the Chiang Chen Industrial Charity Foundation, which promotes technical education and training.
"Due to humble beginnings, [he] himself firmly adheres to the motto that 'industry enriches people's livelihood, leading to prosperity, which strengthens the country,'" the company said in a statement.
Chen Hsong said the foundation has given more than HK$400 million (US$51.1 million) to training programs, scholarships and technical research in its 30-year-plus history.
The foundation "is now one of the largest charity organizations based in Hong Kong dedicated to the education and development of Chinese industrial manufacturing," the company said.
In a 2001 interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong, Chiang said it was a "dream" to become a philanthropist.
"I always wanted to be a kung fu hero who, in classical Chinese literature, was willing to give up his life and wealth to help his country and people," he said.
"I did not have any money and the ability to help China when I was a young boy because my family was very poor," Chiang said. "But I had the money when I was 68, and so I did what I always wanted to do."
Chiang was awarded Hong Kong's highest honor, the Grand Bauhinia Medal, in 2005, as well as the Order of the British Empire from the Queen of England. He received honorary doctorates from several universities in Hong Kong, and the head of Hong Kong's government issued a statement on his passing.