Who are the biggest Chinese philanthropists?

Li Ka-shing, Jack Ma Yun and Priscilla Chan, the wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, have each given 10 billion yuan to charitable causes, according to research by Hurun

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2015, 9:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2015, 6:11pm

Who is the most generous philanthropist in the ethnic Chinese world? According to the latest Hurun report, Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing, Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma Yun and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan topped the list, each having contributed more than 10 billion yuan (HK$12.15 billion) to charitable causes.

Li, 87, has been an active philanthropist in China for several decades. The chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings and Cheung Kong Property Holdings has donated more than HK$1.5 billion through the foundation named after him, according to Hurun’s estimate.

Nearly 90 per cent of the funds went towards the mainland, including a donation of more than 5 billion yuan to establish Shantou University in his hometown in Guangdong province.

Ma, the top philanthropist on the mainland, set up a charitable trust last year before his company went public in New York.

Ma has said the trust, which was valued at about US$3 billion, would focus mainly on environmental protection, health care, education and culture. He and his wife Zhang Ying have also become sponsors of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in the United States. They have promised to contribute 180 million yuan annually to fund research on critical diseases.  

Zuckerberg and Chan, whose father’s ancestral home is on the mainland, gave Facebook shares worth more than US$900 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in 2013, the largest single donation from the couple in recent years. They have also provided significant financial support to medical and education institutions in the United States.

According to the Hurun list, 150 ethnic Chinese philanthropists have each made donations of at least 500 million yuan to various charitable causes

Nearly half are involved in property development. Twelve hail from Guangdong province, while Fujian, Hong Kong and Taiwan are each home to five.

On the mainland, the largest single donation came from Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group and the richest man in China, who gave 1 billion yuan to rebuild ancient temples in Nanjing city, Jiangsu province, in 2010.

Some mainland billionaires tie their gifts to special causes. Xu Lianjie, chief executive of Hengan International Group, donated 99.99 million yuan to local charity groups on his father’s 80th birthday, and gave 66.66 million yuan each time on his two sons’ wedding dates.

Overseas universities have also benefited from the generosity of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Hong Kong businessmen Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, and his brother Gerald Chan Lok-chung   gave US$3.5 billion to Harvard University last September, which is the largest donation the school has received in its 378-year history.