Rich Chinese pressured after Zuckerberg donates wealth

2015-12-03 08:54Global Times Editor: Li Yan

Criticism of wealthy Chinese being too stingy 'unfair,' say observers

Wealthy Chinese have come under public pressure to be more charitable after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to donate the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Chinese people have showered Zuckerberg with praise after the 31-year-old magnate announced Tuesday following the birth of the couple's daughter that he would donate 99 percent of his Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, currently worth about $45 billion.

"He's really a special tycoon, living in an ordinary house, wearing ordinary clothes, and finds an ordinary-looking wife," another Weibo user wrote.

Under the hashtag "Zuckerberg donated 99 percent of his shares," the topic had garnered around 5 million views by press time since it was posted on Tuesday.

Some pointed out the marked contrast between U.S. entrepreneurs and their Chinese counterparts who are accused of being stingy.

"The wisest person donates his money to medical care … I hope the tycoons and celebrities in China can pay more attention to the environment, healthcare and education, buy fewer Koenigsegg [luxury race] cars," one Weibo user wrote.

Others mentioned the reluctance of many of China's wealthy to attend a dinner hosted by Warren Buffett during a 2010 trip to China to promote philanthropy.

Public pressure on China's rich has grown in recent years, especially after major disasters.

At a speech at Peking University in September, Ma fleshed out the reasons why he was not donating most of his money like some Western philanthropists.

"Chinese entrepreneurs have limited resources. Their first responsibility should be to use their money for investment, create more jobs and wealth," he said. "If we donate all our money when we're young, and many entrepreneurs have not learned how to spend their money, this will not benefit China."

Everyone's responsibility

"It's unfair to criticize Chinese entrepreneurs for not taking an active part in philanthropy. They [the wealthy] have done a lot for charity. Philanthropy is everyone's responsibility," Song Houliang, chief editor of the Beijing-based magazine China Philanthropist told the Global Times Wednesday. The magazine focuses on charitable acts by Chinese entrepreneurs.

Based on a report published on January 6 by Beijing Normal University's China Philanthropy Research Institute, donations from the country's top 100 philanthropists more than doubled in 2014 to 30.4 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) compared to the figure for 2013.

Mao Shoulong, a professor of public administration at the Renmin University of China, said that it's unfair to draw comparisons between Chinese and American philanthropists, since philanthropy has been thriving in the US for more than a century, while it is relatively new in China.

"Chinese entrepreneurs haven't been rich for that long. It might be unacceptable for them to donate most of their wealth which they worked hard for, but their concept will change with time," Mao said.

There is a lack of adequate supporting infrastructure, legal systems and human resources which hinder Chinese entrepreneurs from being more philanthropic, Mao said.

Taxing problems

"Donations can be made only when the fundamentals are all in place, that's why I think giving to charities is more difficult than earning money," Ma said in his speech.

Chinese entrepreneurs face many difficulties in giving large sums of money, said Song.

"In China, both donors and recipients have to pay taxes on the donations because they are regarded as a business transaction, while in the U.S. and some European countries donations are tax deductable," Song said.

The heavy tax has dampened Chinese entrepreneurs' enthusiasm for giving, while some of them choose to donate their money to overseas groups. Based on the report from Beijing Normal University, four-fifths of the donations made by China's top 100 philanthropists went to overseas groups.

Chinese donors' preference for overseas charitable groups also shows a distrust of domestic charities, Song noted. "Chinese entrepreneurs have very limited resources and legal basis for donation, and the media and public should be more supportive of their philanthropic efforts," he said.

While the wealthy in China have yet to feel obliged to follow suit, some ordinary people say Zuckerberg's act of charity has touched them and compelled them to do something.

A Beijing-based journalist surnamed Li told the Global Times Wednesday that he was inspired by Zuckerberg's benevolence and offered two Tibetan students financial aid.


Related news


Most popular in 24h

MoreTop news


Travel News
Travel Types
Bar & Club
CNS Photo
Learning Chinese
Learn About China
Social Chinese
Business Chinese
Buzz Words
Special Coverage
Back to top Links | About Us | Jobs | Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.