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One of China’s Richest Women Zhai Meiqin Hopes to Keep Driving Culture of Philanthropy

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HeungKong Group's website website
The story of Zhai Meiqin's selection as a winner of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy is told on the HeungKong Group website, VOA
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  • Zhai Meiqin is one of China’s richest women and president of the privately owned Heoungkong Group Ltd
  • Zhai broke new ground in 2005 by establishing China’s first nonprofit charitable foundation
  • Zhai, 53, was one of nine philanthropists named Thursday as winners of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

London, June 25, 2017: After starting work in a hotel kitchen, Zhai Meiqin began selling furniture and built a billion-dollar conglomerate, but she took great pride in being recognized this week for driving a new phenomenon in China: philanthropy.

Zhai, one of China’s richest women and president of the privately owned Heoungkong Group Ltd., said she never forgot her humble upbringing in Guangzhou in southern China, where her father was an architect and her mother worked in a store.

This made her determined to help others, and she started donating to charity shortly after setting up the business with her husband in 1990.

As their business grew, taking in real estate, financial investment and health care, Zhai broke new ground in 2005 by establishing China’s first nonprofit charitable foundation.

Since then, the HeungKong Charitable Foundation has helped an estimated 2 million people, by funding 1,500 libraries, providing loans for women to start businesses, and funding orphans, single mothers, handicapped children and the elderly.

“I realized there were a lot of poor people in China and this drove me to earn more money so I could help them,” said Zhai, 53, who was one of nine philanthropists named Thursday as winners of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Zhai and her husband, Liu Zhiqiang, whose HeungKong Group with 20,000 staffers has made them worth about $1.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, are known for being leaders of the culture of philanthropy in China.

Their foundation was listed as number 001 by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Zhai said at the end of 2015 there were 3,300 registered nonprofit charitable foundations in China.

ALSO READ: China Charges Rights Activist Li Xiaoling Over Tiananmen Massacre T-Shirt and Friends Who ‘Sheltered’ Her

Next generation

“By setting up the foundation, I wanted to encourage other people, other entrepreneurs, to also donate to charity,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview from Guangzhou translated by her daughter.

“Now I want to make sure that the next generation continues this culture of philanthropy in China,” she added, with two of her four children taking an active role in her foundation.

The other philanthropists to win the Carnegie Medal — which was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years — came from around the globe.

The list included India’s education-focused Azim Premji, Canadian-born social enterprise pioneer Jeff Skoll and American-Australian lawyer and former World Bank Group President James Wolfensohn.

The winners were chosen by a committee made up of seven people representing some of the 22 Carnegie institutions in the United States and Europe. (VOA)

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Dating Apps Face Restrictions in China After Their Growing Success

A mobile application, which allows wealthy older people to connect with young lovers, is facing restrictions in China after a surge in popularity in the country, state media reported on Friday.

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The study by global cyber security company Kaspersky Lab showed that many dating apps do not handle users’ sensitive data with sufficient care. (Source: File Photo)

A mobile application, which allows wealthy older people to connect with young lovers, is facing restrictions in China after a surge in popularity in the country, state media reported on Friday.

SeekingArrangement, which was the most downloaded app on Apple Store China this week and also registered high numbers on Android, has been banned from WeChat — a popular Chinese messaging service similar to WhatsApp — Efe news reported citing the official newspaper China Daily.

The move came after the state-run Global Times — linked to the Communist Party of China — urged the government to shut down the app’s operations in the country for promoting “sugar dating”, a practice in which wealthy older suitors are matched with younger people in exchange for economic benefits or gifts.

The company would also provide day-one support for Windows Server 2019 to deliver virtualised apps with XenApp.
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Lawyers cited by official media warned that the services offered by such websites could be classified as prostitution, which is illegal in China.

How safe are online dating apps?

The app was founded in 2006 by entrepreneur Brandon Wade, who has defended it by saying “love is a concept invented by poor people”, and has its Chinese headquarters in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which has fewer legal restrictions than the rest of the country.

Male members pay a monthly fee of $60, while females use the app for free or pay $15 to access more functions and are required to list their annual income, which should be higher than $47,000 to use the services. (IANS)