Ma named 'Asia Game Changer of the Year'

Updated: 2014-09-17 11:06

By Zhang Yuwei in New York(China Daily USA)

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Ma named 'Asia Game Changer of the Year'

Jack Ma, whose Alibaba Group may set a record later this week with its initial public offering, was named "Asia Game Changer of the Year" by the Asia Society for his company and philanthropic vision.

Ma and Zhang Minxuan, a professor at Shanghai Normal University, were the two Chinese honorees among 13 named on Tuesday as recipients of the organization's first Asia Game Changer Awards, which recognize those who have made a positive difference for Asia and the world.

"One individual stood out in our selection process," said Josette Sheeran, president of the New York-based Asia Society. "The truly game-changing nature of Jack Ma's company Alibaba, and his philanthropic vision for China, have made him our Asia Game Changer of the Year."

The Chinese e-commerce giant co-founded by Ma may become the largest IPO ever when it debuts on the New York Stock Exchange. The 49-year-old has a net worth of $21.9 billion and is China's richest man, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He was named the richest man in China this year by the Shanghai-based research group Hurun Report.

Ma has been gaining more attention for his devotion to philanthropic work. He set up a $3-billion charity trust in April and met with American philanthropist Bill Gates in June to discuss the business of giving. The scale of the trust, about 2 percent of his company's current equity, is one of the largest philanthropic trusts in Asia.

Tom Nagorski, executive vice-president of Asia Society, said the 13 leaders were selected from more than 1,000 nominations. "Many of these nominees were brought to us by our global network and the feedback resulted in these selections came to us from them," he said.

The recipients come from a wide range of fields, including education, innovation and arts and culture.

Zhang of Shanghai Normal University has worked for the past three decades to bring quality education to 23 million Shanghai children of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Zhang has also worked with the Asia Society to bring Shanghai to participate in the organization's Global Cities Education Network.

"We want these awards to reflect the boarder range of human activity - from language, culture, education to policy and business - so we expect future nominees from China will be from all these ranges," said Sheeran.

By creating these awards, Asia Society wants to bring well-deserved attention to the public the transformation many Asian leaders have achieved in many different fields, she added.

"The awards are designed to fill a glaring gap - a lack of recognition of people who are truly transforming ideas into action and improving lives in Asia," she said. "Our inaugural honorees represent an extraordinary range of geography and achievement. What they share in common are vision, passion and proven impact, wherever and however they happen to be changing the world."

Ma and most of the other honorees will attend the Asia Game Changer Awards dinner and celebration at the United Nations in New York on Oct 16. Ma, in person, and his fellow honoree Malala Yousafzai, through video link, will address the event.

(China Daily USA 09/17/2014 page1)