To tackle income inequality, China teaches billionaires lesson in generosity
Billionaires in China are being forced to find their philanthropic spirit as the Chinese government attempts to bridge the gap between the rich and poor, multiple media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, have reported. According to a 2021 Hurun Global Rich List data, China has over 1,058 billionaires, more than any country on the planet including the United States. With the rapid rise in the ultra-wealthy people in the country, income disparity has also seen a jump, triggering the communist government to force billionaires to make donations for various causes.
In June, the founder of food delivery giant Meituan, Wang Xing donated shares worth about $2.27 billion to his personal charity to promote scientific research and education. In March, the founder of e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, Colin Huang, announced he was stepping down as chairman after last year giving away 2.37% of his shares, worth $1.85 billion for education.
He Xiangjian of the Midea home appliances empire and Xu Jiayin of the Evergrande real estate empire have also donated roughly $975 mill and $370m respectively to poverty alleviation, medical care and cultural programmes. In May, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming gave around $77 million for education to his hometown of Longyan in Fujian province.
The government in China has a firm grip on the political economy of the country and the recent rise in economic inequality has alarmed the government that it could threaten the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The move to force billionaires to make such gestures also comes as the Chinese government has brought companies under the scrutiny of its anti-trust regulator.
According to Min Zhou, director of the Asia Pacific Center at the University of California, Western-style philanthropy first took root in China a decade ago. In 2010, American billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates visited China for charitable activities. During the trip they praised the move by the Chinese government, Zhou also informed.