Zhang Xin: China's real estate mogul

How did Zhang Xin go from working in a sweatshop to being a billionaire real estate developer?

Lesley Stahl: What about corruption, though?

Zhang Xin: Corruption is everywhere in China. It's really quite widespread. You pretty much whoever has power is in the position to be corrupt.

Lesley Stahl: So they expect you to pay them off-

Zhang Xin: --to pay them off.

Lesley Stahl: So how do you operate in this environment?

Zhang Xin: For instance, if we buy a piece of land, if we buy it in auction, then that's very transparent.

Lesley Stahl: Openness.

Zhang Xin: Openness, yeah. The more openness it is, the better it is. We don't need to know anybody, we don't need to be the daughters and sons of anybody, we can just buy with money on an open market.

[Zhang Xin: That building will stay, and the rest is all landscape.]

She believes open market tools like public auctions and transparent accounting will lessen the corruption and the cronyism. The woman who once slept on a dictionary, and now has about $3 billion in her bank account, may tout China as the new land of opportunity, but she knows it's still not the land of the free.

Zhang Xin: You know, I hear a lot in the U.S., people praise Wall Street, people praise state capitalism in China, "Look at how efficient things get done. Decisions get made so quick and so effective. It can roll over a policy overnight nationwide. And here in the U.S., we need to go through Congress, Senate, and debate." And you know, I have to say, for a Chinese living in China, Chinese-- if you ask one thing, everyone craves for is what? It's not food. It's not homes. Everyone crave for democracy. I know there's a lot of negativities in the U.S. about the political system, but don't forget, you know, 8,000 miles away, people in China are looking at it, longing for it.

Lesley Stahl: Do you think there will be democracy here? Let's say, I'll put a time frame on it, in 20 years?

Zhang Xin: Sooner.

Lesley Stahl: You're an optimist.

Zhang Xin: I am.

A bold statement in a country with heavy government censorship and limited freedom of speech. And while she's thriving, China's residential real estate is in trouble. That part of the story, when we return.