Tencent Holdings founder and CEO Pony Ma Huateng is emphasising the social good his company is achieving amid rising scrutiny over the company’s possible monopoly power in the video game and social media industries, where it dominates by a sizeable lead. The 49-year-old billionaire, who has kept a low profile in recent years, granted a rare interview published on Thursday to Southern Weekly , a Guangzhou-based newspaper. Ma told the paper that Tencent is committed to “creating sustainable social value” for China and will be a “good” tech company. “Technology is a capability. To be good is a choice,” Ma said. “Over the past 23 years, Tencent has managed to come this far because society and our country have provided support that allowed Tencent to continuously grow.” The interview was published after Tencent pledged this week to spend 50 billion yuan (US$7.7 billion) on curing societal problems and improving China’s rural economy amid speculation that it could be the next target for Beijing’s Big Tech crackdown after the government fined Alibaba Group Holding , the owner of South China Morning Post , a record 18.2 billion yuan and demanded a complete restructuring of its fintech affiliate Ant Group . Ma, who had no public appearances for more than 18 months before showing up at the National People’s Congress (NPC), a parliamentary gathering in Beijing in March, said Tencent is aware of the scrutiny of its businesses, including its gaming operations. Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company by revenue, which amounted to 156 billion yuan last year. “We feel that users have more expectations. Concerning antitrust, privacy protections, the prevention of big data price discrimination, and so on, we, as users, share these concerns,” Ma said. “For instance, with our gaming business, we know there are a lot of doubts.” Gaming addiction among minors, which has long been an issue for regulators in China, was recently brought into the spotlight again when President Xi Jinping raised it during the NPC meeting last month. Ma said Tencent is actively combating video game addiction among teenagers, having enforced a playtime curfew since 2019 for underage gamers who are, by law, only allowed to play for 90 minutes each day on weekdays. Tencent is forcefully logging out 17 million underage gamers every day, he said. This month, Tencent was among 34 Big Tech companies that were lectured by Beijing authorities – including the State Administration of Market Regulation, the China Cyberspace Administration, and the State Taxation Administration – and told to learn a lesson from Alibaba’s recent penalty . All the companies, Tencent included, made public statements pledging to adhere to laws and regulations. China’s antitrust regulator fines Big Tech for unreported M&A deals The interview did not address this or other recent sensitive topics plaguing the company, such as the executive’s visit to antitrust authorities in Beijing in March, which the company called voluntary and a normal occurrence. Nor was Ma asked about former Tencent vice-president Zhang Feng’s involvement with Sun Lijun , a former vice-minister at the Ministry of Public Security who has been under investigation since April 2020 over the sharing of personal data. Instead, the interview focused on Ma’s views on charity, and the entrepreneur offered some insight into what Tencent was doing to meet its new-found social responsibilities. Ma said Tencent has a new division called the “sustainable social value business group”, differing from how many other billionaires in China, including Alibaba founder Jack Ma (no relation), handle philanthropy, which is through private foundations or trusts. The division will go beyond traditional philanthropy and invest seriously in “social value”, according to Ma, who admitted the term is not currently well defined. “We have a series of problems we have to solve,” he said. “How do we quantify each business group’s contribution to social value? How do we fairly incentivise employees? Should this be their key performance indicator?” Ma also said he believes his company needs to do more work in education and health care. “Education and health care are not only commercial services, but also public and universal ones,” he said. “So on top of commerce, what can we do to play our role? What can we do in terms of pension and health in an ageing society?” Ma highlighted carbon emissions as another area of investment. Tencent will strive to help China meet its carbon neutrality goal by 2060, he said, referencing what has become a top priority for Xi’s government. Artificial intelligence could be used to improve energy efficiency, Ma said, and he suggested Tencent could look into offshore wind turbines to power its data centres. On the consumer side, Ma suggested leveraging its dominant social media platform. “We have to make good use of the advantages afforded by Tencent’s consumer-facing platforms, WeChat and related mini programs, to support low-carbon activities,” he said.