China's rich elite are often labeled as tight-fisted for not donating enough to charity – but a new report has found them to be just as generous, if not more so, than their Western peers when it comes do supporting good causes.
Shenzhen hotel entrepreneur Yu Pengnian, 85, tops a new list of China's top 100 philanthropists. He has given 2 billion yuan (US$258 million) - almost all of his wealth – to charity since 2003 which went towards providing free cataract surgery to close to 100,000 people.
Following his example is Niu Gensheng, chairman of Mengniu Group, who vowed to donate all his shares in the dairy company to a charitable fund specially created back in 2005.
The 2007 Hurun Report's Chinese Philanthropists List, compiled by Briton Rupert Hoogewerf, has placed 30 of China's 100 richest people in the 100 most generous for 2006, up from only 20 the year before.
"Almost all the top 100 rich Chinese are accepting the concept of charity... With a good policy environment, more and more wealthy people are setting up their own charitable funds." Hoogwerf said while releasing the list, the fourth since he began compiling the list in 2003.
Out of the 10 billion yuan (US$1.29 billion) donated to charity last year, the top 100 accounted for 3.9 billion yuan (US$505 million) thereof, up from 3.75 billion yuan (US$436 million) the previous year.
Education, social welfare and poverty alleviation attracted the most donors with experts clamoring for a better legal framework for donations by the super-wealthy.
According to Zhang Liwei, deputy secretary-general of the Christian charity Amity Foundation, the process for the donations to become tax-deductible is long and unnecessarily complex. He thus called for swifter procedures and fairer regulations to be drafted.
Zhang admitted a major step had been taken when the government had raised the tax deduction level to 12 percent for public welfare donations under the new Corporate Income Tax Law, up from the previous 3 percent.
This move would greatly encourage firms to donate more, pointed out Zhang, further explaining that in China, companies were mainly responsible for donations as opposed to individuals in many other countries.
Liu Xuanguo, assistant secretary-general of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, attributed poor public confidence in various charity foundations to the relative lack of development of the sector.
It is further revealing that three-quarters of the funds donated by the top 100 were distributed by foundations created by the donors themselves, according to the survey.
(China Daily April 12, 2007)