China millionaire convinces 100 others to donate wealth

Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:02am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese multi-millionaire has persuaded more than 100 entrepreneurs to donate all their personal wealth, state media said on Wednesday, ahead of a visit by two of the world's richest men to promote philanthropy.

Chen Guangbiao, who is worth an estimated $440 million according to last year's Hurun rich list, and who is already one of the country's top donors to good causes, has said he will leave his entire fortune to charity after he dies.

Chen was also one of the country's first businessmen to announce he would attend a dinner in China this month hosted by billionaire philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who are visiting to talk about their Giving Pledge campaign.

Many rich Chinese have so far shied away from attending, according to Chinese media.

But Chen said he had convinced more than 100 businessman who had "responded to his appeal to donate all of their personal wealth to society," state news agency Xinhua reported.

"Although the pledge makers do not want to be exposed to the media, I give my sincere respect to their charity spirit," Xinhua quoted Chen as saying.

Microsoft founder Gates and investor Buffett said in a letter this week they would not be pushing mega-wealthy families to sign up for their campaign because China had to develop its own culture of philanthropy.

Philanthropy in China has complications beyond issues like possible waste or corruption that might worry Western donors.

Some wealthy Chinese fear generous donations could expose fortunes larger than the government or rivals had calculated, inviting unwanted attention.

"Chen called for more public tolerance and understanding of those wealthy with interests in charity, as some media often suspected the sincerity of charitable donations by the rich," Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Rebecca Conway)