Rich youngsters keen to spend on philanthropy

Updated: 2012-12-01 02:24

By He Dan in Beijing and Yu Ran in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Offspring of wealthy show concern for public welfare with their work

Lu Xingyu dreams of becoming a professional philanthropist. Since December 2010, she has been devoted to a project to raise 1.5 billion yuan ($241 million) to build 1,000 primary schools in Africa.

But instead of praise and applause, the 25-year-old woman has faced overwhelming criticism by netizens after they saw her verified titles at Sina Weibo — a popular micro-blogging service — as director of the philanthropic center of the World Eminent Chinese Business Association and executive president of the China-Africa Project Hope.

After finding out that Lu is the only daughter of a rich businessman, Web users asked whether the young woman got the prominent titles because of nepotism, and also raised the possibility that her association is making profits.

"On Aug 29, when the online rumors and criticism reached their peak, I was in Kenya receiving an award for boosting communication between China and Kenya, but when I got to my hotel room, I received a text message threatening to break my legs," Lu said.

Media reports said that Lu's billionaire father, Lu Junqing, made his fortune from organizing meetings and exhibitions.

Lu Junqing, 50, has various titles, such as president of the World Eminent Chinese Business Association.

Lu Xingyu, a media studies graduate from California State University, said that the public mistakenly believes that she is in charge of 1.5 billion yuan.

She explained that her association has played the role of persuading its members, who are successful entrepreneurs, to donate for the charitable project, but that all the donations go directly into an account of the China Youth Foundation.

"We had raised about 390 million yuan for the project before the online incidents, but since last August, the project has received no more donations," she said.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair wished Lu Xingyu "good luck" when the young woman asked him a question about his views on Chinese people doing philanthropic work in Africa.

Blair was invited to give a keynote speech at the China Philanthropy Forum 2012.

At the forum, Lu Xingyu introduced her philanthropic work in Africa during the question-and-answer session.

Lu Xingyu is not alone in her philanthropy projects, 30-year-old Zong Fuli, daughter of one of China's richest men Zong Qinghou, also showed her philanthropic side by setting up a charitable fund with 10 million yuan in initial capital in 2007.

Her father, the founder and chairman of food giant Wahaha Group, has a fortune estimated at 80 billion yuan, according to the China Rich List released by Hurun Report Inc.

In September, the entrepreneur, who heads six companies in her father's group, donated 70 million yuan to the Zhejiang University Education Foundation to establish the Fuli Institute of Food Science, which supports studies in food nutrition and safety.

For Yan Zhuping, 27, charity work has been an essential part of his life since he joined the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organization founded in Taiwan in 2004, when he was studying in Australia.

After coming back from abroad in 2009, Yan founded the Build to Last Foundation on May 2011.

Yan's father owns a company in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, manufacturing and selling medical equipment.

"I've never given up on charity work, even after I returned to China for work, and I want to gather more people devoted to charity as well," said Yan, who is a salesman at a local fund management company.

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