China’s Andrew Carnegie

sduncan post on February 22nd, 2016
Posted in China and Taiwan

By: Andrea Russett

Individual philanthropic actions are deeply rooted in personal experience and ones

own system of beliefs. This statement proves true throughout history in both

Western and Eastern culture and resonates largely with 88-year-old real estate

magnate Yu Pengnian.

On Thursday April 22, 2010, the entrepreneurial giant of the hotel industry became

China’s first billion-dollar philanthropist by announcing the donation of his

remaining fortune – worth $3.2 billion Yuan to the Yu Pengnian Foundation. With

this announcement, the Hong Kong-registered fund that donates to education,

health and disaster relief is now valued at over $1.2 billion.

Ranked as the most generous donor in China for the fifth consecutive year in 2010,

Pengnian marks the 2008 Sichuan and 2010 Yushu earthquakes as the catalyst for

the latest wave in Chinese philanthropy. Shortly after this announcement in late

April 2010, along with three other Chinese entrepreneurs, the pooled funds of more

than $10 million were donated to disaster relief for the Yushu earthquake.

Optimistic that this wave of philanthropy will encourage other Chinese billionaires

to increase their giving capacity Pengnian states, “My fortune is just a drop in the

bucket compared to [others] but I have a point of view that is very different from

others, I will not leave my fortune to my children.” After his Foundation

announcement on April 22, he told reporters, “this will be my last donation. I have

nothing more to give away. It will all be for charity, no part of it will be inherited by

anyone, no part will be used to do business or for investments.”

The man who has been referred to as China’s version of American industry tycoon

Andrew Carnegie says that his actions are rooted in Confucianism. “For me, money

is only something external,” he said. “Traditional Confucianism always calls for us to

help others. Giving a hand to the people who need it is a source of happiness.”

In addition to his recent efforts for disaster relief, another and more personal focus

of the Foundation lies within the health sector. Pengnian has made special donations

to patients with cataracts because he once suffered from the same disease. “I like to

support the poor because I used to be poor and I understand the misery of the poor

people,” he said. (5). Of all the causes to support within the parameters of healthcare,

Yu has funded over 150,000 cataract removal operations across China since 2003

due to his personal experience.

His belief in the Chinese philosophical practice that stems from the teachings of

Chinese philosopher Confucius seems to have made these philanthropic decisions

easy for him. Being able to relate to others in need also makes the process of giving

and enjoyable action. Pengnian states, “providing timely help to the really poor and

making them live better are my aim and wish.”

Cited works:

China Daily – English

Shanghai Star

China Daily – English

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