Chen Guangbiao lays New York Times ad comparing himself to Lei Feng at soldier's tomb

Publicity-courting tycoon kowtowed to Lei, a former PLA soldier whom the Communist Party has touted as a model citizen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 7:04pm

Controversial tycoon Chen Guangbiao has again hit the headlines after he laid bouquets of flowers – and copies of The New York Times – at the tomb of a People’s Liberation Army soldier on Tuesday.

Chen has just wrapped up his high-profile trip to New York where he offered a free lunch to hundreds of homeless people. However the tycoon managed to spark fury as diners, who had also been promised US$300 in cash, left empty-handed.

Yesterday Chen visited the tomb of Lei Feng in Fushun, Liaoning province. He kneeled and touched his head to the ground to kowtow to Lei, a former People's Liberation Army soldier whom the Communist Party has touted as a model citizen devoted to the party and the country since his death five decades ago, the Huashang Daily reported.

He also laid copies of The New York Times, in which he took out a full-page advertisement, featuring a photo of him next to a picture of Lei, in which he called himself “China’s Lei Feng for a new era”.

Chen announced in the advert that he, as a “leading Chinese philanthropist”, would “host luncheon for 1,000 poor and destitute Americans”, thus “restoring the image of China’s wealthy” and “harmonising relations between China and the United States”.

But Chen’s charity effort ended bitterly, when only 250 shelter residents received a three-course meal as promised last Wednesday. Diners also complained they had not received the US$300 in cash they had also been promised.

However, Chen claimed that he had handed out a total of US$90,000 and he had donated US$210,000 to two rescue stations.

Chen said he told Lei at his tomb about his charity trip to New York, “which has been widely covered by one than one hundred US media outlets”, including how he sang the patriotic song – Learn from the Good Model Citizen Lei Feng – to Americans, the Huashang Daily reported.

“I did this from my heart,” Chen told the newspaper. “Besides, I think that [action] must hit the headlines”

Chen, an eccentric tycoon from the recycling industry in Jiangsu was ranked at 227 of the 400 richest Chinese by Forbes in 2011. He is best known for his showy donations and support of environmental protection.

Chen said he planned to visit Africa on his next charity trip, although he had not yet decided when, the paper reported.