One of the most significant and controversial leaders of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was a communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People's Republic of China which he governed as the chairman of Chinese Communist Party. He is appreciated for numerous development work but is criticised for his authoritarian regime and policies which resulted in millions of deaths .
2 Jack Ma
Confucius was a Chinese philosopher whose philosophy came to be known as Confucianism. Confucianism is often credited with shaping Chinese communities and East Asian societies. Confucius is considered one of the most influential individuals in the history of mankind as his teachings have had a great impact on people around the world. His philosophy continues to remain influential.
4 Jet Li
Jet Li is one of the most popular Asian actors to have made it big in the American film industry. A martial artist and former Wushu champion, he won a national championship before retiring from competitive Wushu to focus on his acting career. Also a well-known philanthropist, Jet Li is closely associated with the Red Cross Society of China.
5 Yip Man
Yip Man was a Chinese martial artist best remembered for teaching martial arts to the famous Chinese American martial artist, Bruce Lee. Yip Man is credited with teaching not only Bruce Lee but also many other students who went on to become martial arts masters. A biographical martial arts film titled Ip Man was inspired by his life and career.
Qin Shi Huang is credited with founding the Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China. He reigned as the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BC to 210 BC. Under his rule, the Chinese state expanded greatly and he also enacted major political and economic reforms. His life and work inspired several films like The Emperor's Shadow.
8 Sun Tzu
10 Yao Ming
Widely regarded as one of the greatest Chinese basketball players ever, Yao Ming represented the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Known as the Ming Dynasty in the US, Ming's popularity and success in the NBA made him a symbol of China. One of China's most popular sportsmen, Ming is also credited with introducing the Chinese Basketball Association to the world.
11 Simu Liu
Born in China, Simu Liu moved to Canada at 5. A business administration graduate, he took to acting after being laid off by Deloitte. Trained in martial arts, he initially found work as a stunt man. He is best known for his Canadian Screen Award-nominated role in Blood and Water.
Chiang Kai-shek was a Chinese revolutionary who led the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and later on in Taiwan until his death. He is credited with successfully leading the Northern Expedition against the Beiyang government, achieving Chinese unification. He was involved in a civil war with Communist Party of China, which he lost in 1949 and retreated to Taiwan.
13 Dylan Wang
Dylan Wang is a Chinese singer, rapper, model, and actor. He achieved international fame for his portrayal of Daoming Si in the popular TV series, Meteor Garden. Apart from being an entertainer, Dylan is also a basketball enthusiast. In 2019, he participated in a celebrity basketball game and helped his team secure a win at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who is believed to have started the physical training in China's Shaolin Temple and therefore is credited with the creation of Shaolin kungfu. Not a Chinese by birth, Bodhidharma is also believed to have transmitted Chan Buddhism to China.
Puyi served as the final emperor of China's last imperial dynasty, The Qing dynasty. After Manchuria was invaded by Japan, Puyi became a puppet at the hands of the Japanese and was chosen as the emperor of the puppet state of Manchukuo. He then signed many edicts, given to him by the Japanese, including the one that made slavery legal.
16 Kris Wu
17 Sun Yat-Sen
18 I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei was a Chinese-American architect who drew inspiration from the garden villas at Suzhou when he was young. He is credited with founding I. M. Pei & Associates, an independent design firm, in 1955. Today, the award-winning firm is known by the name, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Pei is known for designing structures like the Mesa Laboratory.
19 Zheng He
20 Bolo Yeung
Bolo Yeung is a Hong Kong retired competitive bodybuilder and martial arts film actor. He is best known for his performance in popular films like Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport. He has also played lead roles in films like Ironheart, which is regarded as a cult classic. As a bodybuilder, Yeung held the Mr. Hong Kong title for ten years.
21 Lin Dan
With 666 career wins, including two Olympic and two World Cup golds, Lin Dan is one of the veterans of Chinese badminton. He is the only player to achieve a Super Slam, winning all nine major badminton titles. Known for his fitness and attacking style, Dan retired at 37.
22 Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, Hu Jintao is believed to have given shape to the belligerent China that Xi Jinping unleashed on the world. He was conservative with political reforms and reintroduced state control in several sectors. Known for his reserved and modest leadership style, his tenure marked consensus based rule and collective leadership.
Born in Hong Kong, Jimmy O. Yang moved to the U.S. with his parents at 13. Although equipped with an economics degree, he found his calling in comedy and established himself as a talented stand-up comedian. He is now known for his roles in Silicon Valley and Crazy Rich Asians.
24 Ma Huateng
Chinese business magnate Ma Huateng, or Pony Ma, is best known as the founder, chairman, and CEO of the technology giant Tencent. His company owns the messaging app WeChat. One of CEOWORLD’s Most Powerful People in the World, he was a delegate of the 12th National People's Congress.
25 Hu Yi Tian
After making waves with his TV debut in A Rush to Dead Summer, Chinese actor Hu Yitian gained accolades and awards for his role of Jiang Chen in the Tencent series A Love So Beautiful. He has also appeared on reality shows such as Twenty-Four Hours.
26 Jiang Zemin
Chinese politician, Jiang Zemin, served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002. Qualified as an engineer, he joined the Chinese Communist Party when he was in college. Rising through the ranks, he eventually became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Minister of Electronic Industries.
27 Ludi Lin
Born in China, Ludi Lin spent most of his early years studying in Australia and then moved to Canada. Apart from studying acting, he also took up courses in dietetics and medicine. His martial arts and language skills have helped him grab roles in a lot of Chinese co-productions.
29 Cao Cao
Cao Cao was a Chinese warlord, poet, and statesman. He played an important role in laying the foundations for the state of Cao Wei, which was formed shortly after his death. Although he was posthumously honoured with the title Emperor Wu of Wei, Cao Cao never ruled as an emperor, but kept Emperor Xian under his control.
30 Ai Weiwei
31 Deng Lun
Deng Lun soared to fame with the xianxia series Ashes of Love. The star of The Yin-Yang Master film franchise, Lun was named Esquire’s Most Commercially Valuable Artist of the Year. He has also appeared in the series Flowers in Fog and the reality show Go Fighting!
32 Lu Bu
Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese martial artist, herbalist, and tactical advisor. Li Ching-Yuen, who is believed to have lived off a diet of rice wine and exotic herbs throughout his life, is best remembered for his extreme longevity claim. According to his claim, Li Ching-Yuen lived for 250 years, although gerontologists consider that to be a myth.
34 Guan Yu
Guan Yu was nicknamed Beautiful Beard for his long, flowing beard. Featured in literary works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan was a Chinese military general who served Liu Bei of the Eastern Han dynasty. Lord Guan is now revered as a deity in Chinese folk culture.
36 Li Wenliang
38 Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese activist, literary critic, and philosopher. He is best remembered for organizing campaigns that aimed at ending the one-party rule in China. He was honored with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for human rights in China. Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be honored with a Nobel Prize while residing in China.
Cantopop pioneer Leslie Cheung was born to a tailor who worked for celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock. Educated in the U.K., he later began a singing career in Hong Kong and then moved to Canada. After an illustrious 26-year career, he committed suicide by jumping from the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
40 Lu Han
Lu Han is a Chinese actor and singer who was part of the popular South Korean-Chinese boy band Exo. In 2014, he was ranked sixth in the most popular entertainment star list published by China National Radio. Over the years, Lu Han has been honored at several important film festivals like Beijing International Film Festival and Fresh Asia Chart Festival.
41 Edison Chen
Known as a "bad boy" once, Canadian-born Hong Kong actor/singer Edison Chen is now a doting dad to his daughter with his Chinese model wife Qin Shupei. The actor who has appeared in films such as the Infernal Affairs trilogy, was part of a nude photo scandal back in 2008.
J. G. Ballard was an English novelist, satirist, short story writer, and essayist. Renowned for his uniqueness, Ballard's style of fiction is referred to as Ballardian in the literary world. Many of his works have inspired movies, such as Crash and High-Rise. J. G. Ballard’s work has also inspired other popular writers like John Gray, Terry Dowling, and Lee Killough.
43 Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang, or Kong Ming, was a Chinese strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period. Legend has it that he had supernatural powers and had invented a number of things, such as a crossbow that shot multiple arrows. His habit of living in seclusion earned him the nickname The Hidden Dragon.
44 Zhang Yimou
Part of the Chinese Fifth Generation of filmmakers, Zhang Yimou is best known for his Academy Award-nominated films Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, and Hero. His most expensive film, The Great Wall, was, however, a box-office failure. He also directed part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
45 Sun Yang
Sun Yang is a Chinese competitive swimmer best known for winning three Olympic gold medals. Sun has also won 11 FINA World Championships and nine gold medals at Asian Games. Sun is the first man in the history of competitive swimming to win the World Championship and Olympic gold medals at every single freestyle distance between 200 and 1500 meters.
46 Liu Bei
Liu Bei was a warlord in the Eastern Han dynasty. He is credited with founding the state of Shu Han. Liu Bei went on to reign as the emperor of Shu Han from 221 until his death in 223. Liu Bei is best remembered for his remarkable skills as a leader and politician. His life has inspired several TV series.
Yongzheng reigned over the Qing dynasty as its fourth Emperor from 1722 to 1735. He was also the third Qing emperor to reign over the Eighteen Provinces. Remembered for his hard-working nature, Yongzheng's most prominent objective was to come up with an effective government at minimum expense. Yongzheng, who cracked down on corruption, is credited with forming the Grand Council.
48 Hans Zhang
Hans Zhang is a Chinese actor, host, and singer. He is known for playing important roles in TV series like Meteor Shower, The Queen of SOP, Boss & Me, and Heroes in Sui and Tang Dynasties. Over the years, Hans Zhang has won several prestigious awards, such as Asian Idol Awards, China TV Drama Award, and Seoul International Drama Award.
49 Han Geng
Mandopop and K-pop singer and actor Han Geng first gained fame with the band Super Junior. He is trained in 56 types of traditional Chinese dance forms, apart from martial arts and ballet. He has also succeeded as a solo singer and has appeared in movies such as Ex-Files.
Legendary 10th-century Chinese monk Budai, is better known as The Laughing Buddha and The Fat Buddha. Named after the “budai” or cloth sack that he carried with him, he was considered an avatar of Maitreya, or the future Buddha. His figures adorn many homes, as a symbol of prosperity and contentment.