Apologies if there has already been a thread created for Zhang but I've searched and can't find one.
For my money Zhang Ziyi isn't just the best chinese actress of her generation; she's one of the best; period.
Born February 9th 1979 Zhang Ziyi is the younger of two children.
Her education was at the Beijing dance academy where she specialised in folk dances and won a young dancer of the year competition in 1994.
On leaving the dance academy at 17 she applied to the China Central Drama College and in her second year there auditioned for a shampoo commercial that Zhang Yimou was making. She lost out on that job but, six months later, was cast in her first film; Yimou's The Road Home.
Her second film; Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon brought her international attention and she's since compiled a distinguished CV and a reputation as one of the best Chinese actresses working.
Zhang is now two films into a Hollywood career with an eye candy role in Rush Hour 2 (in which she was the sole worthwhile thing) and an acclaimed, English language performance in Memoirs of a Geisha under her belt. However her next role is a Chinese one as The Emperess in Xiaogang Feng's Ye Yan, a loose adaptation of Hamlet.
Obviously it's a giant YAY from me. She's a formiddable acting talent (Look at House of Flying Daggers and 2046 for proof) and one of the most stunning natural beauties cinema has to offer (see above for proof)