Speaking with Reuters, Microsoft co-founder, gazillionaire and superhero Bill Gates said that China should extend efforts in encouraging its wealthy to donate to charitable causes and to step up philanthropy (this, of course, does not apply to the self-proclaimed “Most Prominent Philanthropist of China“).
“When you have something like a disaster (in China) you see the basic generosity, but if you look at systemic things like giving to health causes, giving to universities to do research, giving to handicapped people, it’s not there yet,” Gates said to reporters in Singapore.
Gates, co-chair of the $38 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, suggested that governments introduce tax incentives to encourage more people to donate.
China is now home to a total of 358 billionaires, and the number of super-rich Chinese is expected to rise 80 percent within the next decade.
In 2010, Gates and Warren Buffet threw a charity banquet in Beijing and asked 50 of China’s richest people to come. A third of the guests turned the invitation down, supposedly because they didn’t want to part with their fortunes (Chen Guangbiao was one of the few billionaires who RSVP’d). The response, or lack of, naturally riled up the press. Some argued that the Chinese didn’t need outside forces to teach them about philanthropy as “China has a centuries-old tradition of charitable work, funding education, cleaning up after natural disasters, and helping the poor and elderly.”
Yet, according to the World Giving Index, China ranks only 133 out of 135 countries surveyed in terms of the percentage of people who give money to charity, and as Reuters points out, donations by China’s top 100 philanthropists in 2013 dropped 44 percent from 2012 and 55 percent the year before that, according to data gathered by the Hurun Report.
Gates and Buffet are still prodding billionaires to give away their wealth as part of their ongoing “Giving Pledge,” and fewer than 10 Asian billionaires have added their name to the list. According to Forbes, there are currently 444 billionaires across Asia.