Seed Scientist Watches Stock Savings Bloom

Scientist Yuan Longping, the so-called "father of hybrid rice," earned 2 million yuan (US$241,800) Monday simply by lending his name to a listed company.

Yuan's actual fortune amounts to more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million), making him one of the richest people in China.

By lending his name to Longping High-tech, a seed company, Yuan obtained a 5 percent stake, or 2.5 million shares worth 2 million yuan, in the firm.

Longping High-tech ended at 40.37 yuan (US$4.90) a share on Monday and went up to 44.41 yuan (US$5.35) Tuesday, which again increased Yuan's wealth.

Although the number of millionaires in China has increased since the reform and opening-up policies were adopted in 1978, few scientists have made such a large amount of money.

But as more and more people realize the value of science and technology, the traditional image of scientists as hardworking but poor is changing.

Many people now believe scientists should be paid more to match their real value.

Most ordinary people believe Yuan deserves his fortune as the hybrid rice he developed has dramatically increased China's rice production and avoided serious famines.

Yuan seems unconcerned about his fortune and still focuses on his work with hybrid rice.

"I don't care much about reputation and money. I have enough money and can live comfortably," the 70-year-old said.

But he admits that listing will help China's hybrid rice enter the international market and provide more funds for future research into the area.

He said he has donated the 2 million yuan earned from the listing to the Yuan Longping Foundation, which awards prizes to those who have made contributions to the development of agriculture.

"The 2 million yuan is the largest donation in recent years. With that, and 5 million yuan (US$602,000) more we already have, we can encourage innovation," said the scientist.

(China Daily 12/13/2000)

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