A Conversation with SOHO China’s Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin: Real Estate Entrepreneurship in China

China’s most successful and well-known real estate developer couple, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, visited MIT for a discussion with STL Lab Director Yu-Hung Hong and prof. Yasheng Huang of Sloan school before an audience of approximately 400 students, faculty, and guests. Shiyi and Xin are the founders of SOHO China, Asia’s largest commercial real estate IPO and largest prime office developer in Beijing and Shanghai. Shiyi and Xin developed SOHO 3Q, a shared office space in China that has grown to 16,000 desks in 17 locations. 

The couple spoke to a number of issues related to real estate entrepreneurship in China. They described how they entered the real estate industry as it began to develop in China, and how they developed their business philosophy to create efficient spaces. The couple also discussed the challenge of air pollution and the challenge of providing clean, habitable spaces. When asked about socially responsible real estate development, the couple argued that developers are meeting market demand for housing and other real estate products. They painted an optimistic picture of the real estate market in China, which has developed from a small business 25 years ago to a booming business that is providing high-quality housing and commercial space for the Chinese population at a scale unprecedented in human history.