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Former premier Zhu Rongji joins ranks of China's most charitable: survey

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Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, respected as an economic reformer and fighter against corruption, gave away nearly US$4 million last year to become one of the country's top philanthropists, a survey showed.

[BEIJING] Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, respected as an economic reformer and fighter against corruption, gave away nearly US$4 million last year to become one of the country's top philanthropists, a survey showed.

Mr Zhu donated a total of 23.98 million yuan (US$3.9 million) - earned from royalties on some of his books - to help poor students and teachers and renovate school facilities, according to wealth publisher Hurun's Philanthropy List 2014.

He ranked 60th on the 103-name list released Tuesday, after technology billionaires, property tycoons and investment gurus.

Mr Zhu was China's premier from 1998 to 2003. He was known for his tough style with other officials but credited with pushing deep economic reforms.

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He helped orchestrate China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and hastened the shift away from state economic planning.

Many Chinese leaders have published books after retirement and donations of royalties are often reported by state media, though usually of much smaller value.

The books that contributed to Mr Zhu's donation were collections of transcripts of his speeches and comments since the late 1980s, when he was mayor of Shanghai.

Jack Ma, China's richest man and founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, was ranked as China's most generous person, after he donated a 1.4 per cent stake in his firm - worth US$3.5 billion according to Tuesday's share price - to set up an environment, healthcare and education charity, said a statement accompanying the list.

Mr Ma's personal wealth ballooned to US$19.5 billion after Alibaba's record-breaking initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September, according to Forbes magazine.

His contribution was estimated by Hurun at 14.5 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion) but still accounted for more than two-thirds of the top 103 total donations, with the other 102 averaging around 63 million yuan each, the list showed.

While charitable giving by the wealthy is widespread in countries like the United States, it is far less established in developing nations such as China and India.

A banquet for China's super-rich hosted by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010 sparked debate about Chinese philanthropy, amid reports that some wealthy invitees had been reluctant to attend.

AFP

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