Tianjin warehouse explosion 2015

Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma attacked online for not donating money to victims of Tianjin blast

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 3:58pm

China's second richest man, Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma Yun, has come under fire online for not donating money following an explosion in Tianjin last week that killed more than 100 people.

Chinese business leaders and celebrities have rallied to donate money to support the rescue efforts. Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan was among the first to donate, pledging 3 million yuan (US$468,000) the day after the disaster. Richard Liu Qiangdong, founder and chief executive of Alibaba-rival JD.com, also donated 10 million yuan on Sunday.

After it was pointed out online that Ma had not announced any intention to donate money, his Weibo account was flooded by tens of thousands of critical comments.

"If you don't donate, I will stop shopping on Taobao," one commenter wrote.

"You threw away more than 1 billion yuan to buy a villa in Hong Kong, why not spend a few hundred million yuan for Tianjin victims," another said, referring to Ma's reported purchase of 22 Barker Road.

While some denounced those who criticised Ma, saying he had the right to decide where his own money went, the majority of comments called for him to donate.

Other Chinese internet leaders, including Pony Ma Huateng, founder and chief executive of Tencent, and Xiaomi boss Lei Jun, have also been criticised. But none came under fire as much as Ma.

Ma, who has an estimated fortune of US$31.5 billion, is the second richest man in China, and one of the country's top philanthropist, donating more than 14.6 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) in 2014, according to the Hurun Report.

The Alibaba founder was quick to donate in the wake of previous disasters. Ma's firm pledged 25 million yuan (US$3.9 million) to help victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, while in 2011 his foundation donated 5 million yuan following another disaster in the province.

Ma has not yet publicly responded to the Tianjin criticism.

His is not the only donation controversy. On Sunday, a 19-year-old girl was detained by police for allegedly obtaining tens of thousands of yuan from supporters after she falsely claimed her father had been killed in the Tianjin blast.