By Xinji Letu
Chen Guangbiao, the renowned philanthropist famous for his high-profile approach to charity, said the recent censure for his charitable behavior was a blow to altruism.
China Business Journal, a Beijing-based newspaper, said in a report that some of Chen’s 2010 donations were either fake or questionable. The report was carried by many other media groups across the country.
Two reporters with the journal said they investigated Chen’s major charitable activities in 2010 and found that some recipients’ names appeared fabricated.
In response to the accusations, Chen, 42, president of Jiangsu Huangpu Recycling Resources Company, provided the receipts and paperwork from past donations during an interview broadcast last Monday on China Central Television.
Chen said the incident served only to damage the burgeoning charity industry.
“If they keep doing this, no one in China will want to do charity work,” Chen said during the interview.
Reporters with the journal countered that public figures should be open to oversight, and that “any donation must face public scrutiny.”
Unlike Zhang Ziyi and other celebrities who have been caught up in accusations of donation fraud, Chen has enjoyed wide support.
Director Feng Xiaogang posted six messages on his Sina microblog in support of Chen. “It is unfair that donors are attacked repeatedly and forced to show evidence of their innocence. It seems that donating money is like committing a crime,” he wrote.
By Zhang Dongya
A photograph of philanthropist Chen Guangbiao standing beside a wall of 100-yuan bills is spreading online. He recently raised 40 million yuan, 3 million of which he donated, for poor families in five provinces.
He received praise for his generosity, as well as criticism for the publicity tied to his gift. Chen said he is not afraid of being criticized for putting on a show. “I want to make the ‘show’ bigger so that more people will get involved and emulate me,” Chen said.
Last Friday Chen, 42, president of Jiangsu Huangpu Renewable Resources Company, constructed a “money wall” at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s (ICBC) Jiangsu Branch to collect donations. The wall had 330 “bricks” made up of 100-yuan bills worth 100,000 yuan.
Earlier this year, Chen organized the charity event National Entrepreneurs’ Spring Festival Consolation to Five Western Provinces to raise money so poor families in Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan, as well as Tibet and Xinjiang Autonomous Region, would have something to celebrate in the new lunar year.
That event raised 43 million yuan: 3 million from Chen and another 40 million from 127 entrepreneurs.
The money is to be placed inside 80,000 envelopes, each containing 1,000 to 2,000 yuan. The donors will form five groups to distribute money in one province.
Acts of philanthropy have traditionally been anonymous, so Chen’s behavior is making waves. He is, by nature, a showman: during his fundraising drive last week he performed a magic trick before the cameras.
“I’ve been a philanthropist for 10 years. Although there are people saying I’m putting on a show, I’m hoping more will emulate my ‘performance.’ If more people did, more needy people would get help,” Chen said.
The entrepreneurs also collected grain, oil, quilts and warm clothing. Chen said he and his family would spend Spring Festival with recipients of his charity in the west. The group has coordinated their project with respective local governments.
Chen caught the public eye when he brought 60 heavy-duty vehicles and more than 100 machine operators to Sichuan’s earthquake zone a day after the temblor struck in 2008.
He also distributed cash to quake victims he saw along the road. On his first day, he handed out at least 10,000 yuan.
Chen, to date, has donated 1 billion yuan to charity, which makes him the country’s top philanthropist. However, he is best known for his brand of philanthropy: pressing cash into the palms of the needy.
Chen said this does not mean he does not trust intermediary groups such as non-government organizations, but that he wanted to give help directly and quickly.
The tycoon has released his company’s financial report and total donations in 2009. According to the documents, he donated 70 percent of the firm’s profits. “I ensure that all the donated money can be accounted for, and we welcome inquiry from the media and the people.” Jiangsu Huangpu Renewable Resources is engaged in developing renewable resources and in recycling.