Wacky tycoon shouts 'free Chinese cars' from the rooftops
Gift of 43 patriotic Chinese cars to those with Japanese brands hit by riots
A Chinese philanthropist known for his populist gestures has pledged to give domestically-made cars to more than 40 people whose vehicles were damaged in widespread anti-Japan protests last month.
The protests erupted in cities across China over a dispute involving islets in the East China Sea, and saw some demonstrators targeting Japanese-brand cars.
Dressed in a lime-green suit and matching tie, Tycoon Chen Guangbiao, who has previously made headlines for selling canned fresh air, showed off the dozens of Chinese-made Geely-brand replacement cars.
He bought the vehicles for more than five million yuan (HK$6.17 million), state media said. Some 43 people whose cars were damaged can swap their Japanese brands for the Geely vehicles to show their patriotism.
"I launched this event to remind people that patriotic behaviour should be conducted with rationality, wisdom and discipline," Chen said on his microblog on Wednesday.
Sales of Japanese-brand cars in China have plunged amid calls for boycotts against Japan's products, industry figures show.
Chen, one of China's top 400 richest people with a fortune of US$740 million, has handed out cash to victims of China's 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province and given away 3,000 pigs and sheep at a free music concert.
He has pledged to leave his entire fortune to charity after his death.
Chen's fortune is built on a recycling company, Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilization Group, based in the eastern city of Nanjing.