Wang Jianlin, president of Dalian Wanda Group, ranks No.3 on the latest Hurun Philanthropy List. [File photo]
China's rich still play a key role in philanthropy even amid a string of embezzlement and fraud scandals around charities that caused a serious dent in donations, according to a research institute.
The average cash or cash equivalent donations made by the 100 most generous individuals on the mainland from last year to this year's March dropped 17 percent to 100 million yuan (US$16 million ), the Hurun Philanthropy List 2012 published yesterday shows.
The research institute noted that there was a wave of suspicion about charity organizations following the Guo Meimei incident, where the Red Cross Society was suspected of misusing its donations to fund a girl's lavish lifestyle.
Despite the suspicions, "there is a general trend toward increased supervision and transparency," it added, pointing out the average donation was still five times that of 2004, when the list was first published.
Twenty philanthropists donated more than 100 million yuan, a decrease of three individuals from last year.
Philanthropists on the list gave 1.3 percent of their personal fortune on average. Donations made by a corporation in which an individual holds more than a 50 percent stake are also recognized as a personal donation.
Glass king Cao Dewang and family strengthened the title of "China's Most Generous Philanthropist" with donations totaling 3.64 billion yuan, followed by Xu Jiayin (also known as Hui Ka Yan), chairman of Evergrande Real Estate Group, with 750 million yuan in donations, and Wang Jianlin, president of Dalian Wanda Group, with 280 million yuan.
Real estate tycoons occupied 51 positions on the list, including eight of the top 10, making property development the most generous sector in paying back to society. Financial firms and manufacturers are also active in philanthropy.
In a survey conducted by the Hurun Research Institute among Chinese with over 6 million yuan in personal wealth, charitable donations came in second after payment of taxes as the best way to take on social responsibilities.
Over half the individuals donate through their own personal charitable organizations, and up to 35 percent on the list have set up their own charities.
Southern China held the lion's share in philanthropy, with more than twice the number of philanthropists as northern China. Guangdong Province is home to 21 listed individuals, the most among all provinces, followed by Fujian with 17.