Taiwan business tycoon; Born January 18, 1917; Died October 15, 2008.

Wang Yung-ching, who has died of a heart attack in the US aged 91, was a businessman who built his Formosa Plastics Group into Taiwan's biggest and most profitable manufacturing conglomerate. A farmer's son with only an elementary school education, Wang set up a rice store with his two brothers in his early twenties before establishing the Formosa Plastics Corp in 1954.

Forbes listed Wang as the island's second wealthiest person this year, with a personal fortune estimated to be $6.8 billion. He expanded his plastics and petrochemicals empire and diversified into electronics, cosmetics, hospitals and car manufacturing.

A strong proponent of closer economic ties with rival China, Wang invested in power plants and plastics factories on the Chinese mainland. Formosa Plastics also set up chemical companies in the US and owns several oil wells and properties rich in natural gas in Texas.

Wang is said to have lived an austere life, staying in an apartment inside his group's HQ in downtown Taipei.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou praised Wang for his "outstanding contributions to Taiwan" and for promoting a vision of peace and prosperity with China, though his group was also criticised by environmentalists.

Formosa Plastics said Wang had assigned seven senior managers to run the group in 2006 and they will now continue to oversee operations.

Wang is survived by his wife, Lee Pao-chu, two sons and eight daughters.

His eldest son, Winston Wang, runs Grace T H W, a group active in petrochemicals and electronics in China. Daughter Cher Wang and her husband, Chen Wen-chi, manage chip developer VIA Technologies Inc.