Cut the super-rich some slack on charity

Updated: 2015-12-10 15:15

By William Daniel Garst(China Daily)

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Cut the super-rich some slack on charity

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla are seen with their daughter named Max in this image released on December 1, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

As American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, the rich are different from the rest of us. Even after donating 99 percent of his Facebook shares, worth $45 billion, to charity to mark his daughter Chan’s birth, Mark Zuckerberg will be, in terms of stock wealth, a millionaire — 1 percent of $45 billion is $4.5 million.

In addition to generating headlines in the United States, this decision made a major splash in China, with many Chinese media outlets hailing the move an “inspiring example”. While some of the millions of Chinese commenting on the decision on social media dismissed it as a publicity stunt and tax dodge, most praised Zuckerberg and urged China’s rich to behave likewise.

According to a recent Hurun wealth consultancy report, even with its slowing economy, China created in the last year alone 242 billionaires. The Chinese super-rich are often in the news, but mainly for their conspicuous consumption, not philanthropic good deeds. Over the past year, the Chinese media have repeatedly (and rightfully) criticized the behavior of individuals such as Wang Sicong, son of Wanda magnate Wang Jianlin, who posted pictures of his dog sporting Apple gold watches.

However, Hurun also reports that charitable giving among wealthy Chinese has been rising sharply. And a Dec 3, 2015, article in the International Business Times notes that last year, China’s top 100 wealthy philanthropists donated $4.8 billion, double the amount of the previous year.

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