The founders of three of China’s technology giants each pledged over US$2 billion to charitable causes over the past year, in a collective response to the nation’s call for common prosperity that drove donations to a record, according to the Hurun China Philanthropy List 2022. The list recorded 49 benefactors who each gave away more than 100 million yuan (US$14 million) from April 2021 to the end of August, driving total donations to a record US$10 billion, the most in 19 editions and “a record year for big philanthropy,” said Hurun’s chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. China’s top 10 philanthropists, all on Hurun’s China Rich list , gave away 6.3 per cent of their total wealth, or around US$8.7 billion, according to the report. “The top three on the list each donated around 15 billion yuan and came from internet companies,” Hoogewerf said in the list released on Wednesday. “They have recently retreated behind the scenes, and have all responded quickly to the country’s common prosperity drive.” Common prosperity first emerged as a wealth distribution concept in the 1950s soon after the establishment of the People’s Republic, and resurfaced in the 1980s when China experimented with capitalism and economic liberalisation. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for “common prosperity” as an aspirational concept in the past year to narrow the gap between China’s ultra wealthy and the rural poor. The catchphrase refers to affluence shared by everyone both in material and cultural terms, not the prosperity for just a few nor an absolute equal distribution, and should be advanced step by step, according to the government. JD.com ’s billionaire founder Richard Liu Qiangdong , the world’s 149th richest man with an estimated net worth of US$11.8 billion according to Forbes, became China’s most generous donor for the first time, giving away US$2.05 trillion. Liu donated 62.38 million Class B shares of JD.com to a third-party charity foundation, according to a February filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission . Liu has recently surrendered his 45 per cent stakes in each of four entities owned by the company’s logistics, healthcare and investment subsidiaries since September, after he relinquished his CEO role five months earlier. Meituan’s founder and CEO Wang Xing, worth US$8.9 billion according to Forbes, ranked second with US$2.03 billion in donations. He transferred 57 million Meituan shares, around a tenth of his stake in China’s dominant food-delivery service, to his own philanthropic foundation in June 2021 to promote education and scientific research. The move was seen as a response to Beijing’s increased pressure on Big Tech companies to serve social development and the national agenda. What is China’s common-prosperity strategy? Wang locked down nearly 18,000 of his social media posts on microblogging platforms Weibo and Fanfou from public view last year, weeks before the food delivery and on-demand local services giant was slapped with a 3.44 billion yuan (US$533 million) fine by the government to end the firm’s antitrust investigation. Lei Jun, the co-founder and chief executive of the smartphone maker Xiaomi, came in third place with US$2 billion in donations. Ranked the world’s 214th richest man with a US$8.9 billion net worth according to Forbes, Lei donated 308 million shares of his company each to the Xiaomi Foundation and the Lei Jun Foundation in July 2021, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing . Lei stepped down from the main role of the company’s gaming unit , Beijing Wali Internet Technologies, earlier this year. Meanwhile the family of Chan Tan Ching-fen, the widow of the late property tycoon and Hang Lung Group ’s co-founder Chan Tseng-hsi, was the only one from Hong Kong to make Hurun’s top 10 list, ranking seventh with US$150 million in donations. Seven of the top 10 philanthropists donated shares of their businesses to charitable foundations, according to Hoogewerf. “Charitable trusts have become an important way to promote common prosperity and the development of philanthropy in the country,” he said. While education remained the preferred cause for donations, disaster relief came in second place, with 28 per cent of philanthropists on the list donating towards the cause, mainly on the back of last year’s devastating rainstorms in the Chinese provinces of Henan and Shanxi .