Bill Gates urges wealthy Chinese to develop a culture of philanthropy in China, according to a Reuters report. Despite an increase in wealth in China, charitable giving has not risen in kind.
Over the past decade, the economic boom in China accelerated the growth of cities and urban income; however, rural areas have not benefited from China’s growth to the same extent. A wealth discrepancy exists between the rural and urban areas; the average income for Chinese families is 6,091 USD, but rural families struggle with an annual income of below 1,000USD, according to the World Bank. Individuals in rural regions often cannot afford basic necessary services, such as health care.
However, despite this evident problem, the Chinese rich take few steps to help:
“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 told Reuters in Singapore.
Gates pleaded with the wealthiest leaders of China to follow the example of the many charitable leaders and organizations. Seemingly, the Chinese rich are not taking the cue. China’s charitable donations fell 44 percent in 2013. China earned a disturbingly low rank of 133 out of 135 countries on a list compiled by the World Giving Index and the Charities Aid Foundation, ranking the percentage of people who give money to charity, volunteer, or have helped a stranger.
Gates attributes this phenomenon partly to a lack of government support, suggesting making charity donations tax deductible. In addition, several charity scandals over the past few years have raised concern about the misuse of funds.
Master imagery courtesy of Reuters/Tyrone Siu