Tycoon gives his fortune to charity

Agence France-Presse in Shanghai
22 April 2010

A mainland tycoon announced on Thursday he was donating his fortune to charity in a gesture that has cemented the real estate magnate and hotelier’s position as China’s top philanthropist.

Yu Pengnian, 88, told a news conference he was donating US$470 million in cash and property assets to the Yu Pengnian Foundation, bringing the total he had given to the Hong Kong-registered charity to US$1.2 billion.

“This will be my last donation. I have nothing more to give away,” he said.

“It will all be for charity, no part of it will be inherited by anyone, no part will be used to do business nor for investments,” he told reporters.

The donation ensured Yu’s position as China’s top philanthropist, said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which tracks China’s wealthy.

Yu has topped the Hurun Report’s Philanthropy List for five consecutive years.

His foundation, which supports health and education charities and disaster relief, has funded over 150,000 cataract removal operations across China since it began in 2003.

“China’s top wealth creators are now making significant donations,” Hoogewerf said.

“Whilst there still remains public scepticism of some of their motives behind many donations, it is now no longer possible to ignore Chinese philanthropy, which has landed on the world map.”

Yu said he hoped his move would encourage other Chinese billionaires to do more – adding his fortune paled in comparison to some other magnates in Hong Kong and in the mainland.

“My fortune is just a drop in the bucket compared to them but I have a point of view that is very different from others, I will not leave my fortune to my children,” he said.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest full-time philanthropist, said last year he would launch a campaign to encourage China’s wealthiest to take up the practice.

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