88 year old Yu Pengnian (余彭年), China’s #1 philanthropist
In the wake of recent natural disasters, such as the Qinghai earthquake, our minds are all a little geared towards charity work and philanthropic tidings. Well Chinese billionaire, Yu Pengnian, really blew these altruistic vibes out of the water yesterday when he announced that he was handing over his entire fortune to charity.
The Shenzhen real estate and hotel tycoon will donate 470 million dollars in cash and property assets to the charity with his namesake: the Yu Pengnian Foundation. This most recent donation will bring Yu’s total to a whopping 1.2 billion dollars in personal contributions—the entire worth of his fortune–and elevate him to the first mainland philanthropist to break the billion-US-dollar barrier in donations.
Yu tells China Daily: “This will be my last donation. I have nothing more to give away.”
As Yu is 88 years-old, his selfless gift is perhaps not too surprising as giving-back can often be the lasting ticket to immortality. But what about Yu’s remaining family? Yu tells reporters he doesn’t care:
“…I have a point of view that is very different from others, I will not leave my fortune to my children. […] If my children are more capable than me, it’s not necessary to leave a lot of money to them. If they are incompetent, a lot of money will only be harmful to them.”
Reports confirm that Yu’s children agree with his decision, and one must commend this humble attitude towards personal wealth. But, sheesh, the 88-yeard old pops sure takes a hard-lined approach to child-rearing.
Yu’s last donation sealed his ranking as China’s #1 philanthropist, according to the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which tracks China’s wealthy. But more importantly, Yu’s charity work underscores the trend of China’s biggest wealth producers taking the reins of philothranpic work.
Founder of the Hurun report, Rupert Hoogewerf tells AFP: “It is now no longer possible to ignore Chinese philanthropy, which has landed on the world map.”
This sentiment was echoed by Bill Gates on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, as the world’s richest full-time philanthropist said he planned to launch a specific campaign to target China’s wealthiest magnates to partake in charitable work. Gates told reporters:
“I think it’s great news that the Chinese have people who have been very successful, and it remains to be seen whether China will end up like the United States where a lot of people who are very wealthy devote their money and their time to the causes of the neediest.”
Indeed, as today’s China has proven to be a place where sky-high fortunes can be made, it also needs to prove its place amongst the world’s fortunate who altruistically give back. But as Yu and the country’s 66 top philanthropist (who are also China’s wealthiest citizens) continue to donate personal funds to education, poverty and health-care, China as charity worker becomes a more realistic goal.