Tang Jun is not fazed by criticism of the motives behind his company setting up a 8.3 billion yuan foundation. His only worry: it might stop people who want to donate to charity.
Tang, president and CEO of the New Huadu Industrial Group, said that instead of being applauded, he has been asked if the New Huadu Foundation had been set up purely for charity, or if there was some secret agenda behind it.
"But we don't fear such questions," Tang said. "We are only worried because this might stop people who really want to donate to charity."
Tang, 48, a graduate of Peking University and a former president of Microsoft China, had pushed his boss, Chen Fashu, chairman of New Huadu, to donate nearly half of his personal assets to set up the foundation.
Earlier this month, the Nobel Prize Laureate Edmund S Phelps was appointed dean of New Huadu College, which forms part of the foundation.
Two years ago, Tang made news when he moved from an online games company Shanda to New Huadu with a bonus of 1 billion yuan worth of shares in the group, which made him "emperor" among professional managers in China.
During a 30-minute talk with METRO, Tang discussed the fund and his ideal charity blueprint.
METRO: How many students in Beijing will benefit from the program?
A: Our charity program compromises three sections, with the first and second targeting primary and middle school students in remote and poor areas in China.
The third, called "elite project", mainly focuses on college and university students. Two dozen universities in the capital are included, and 467 students in 20 universities such as Beijing Normal University and Renmin University of China will benefit from our fund.
METRO: How much would each student get and how is the selection made?
A: Each student will get 3,000 yuan a year. We ask the universities to select, but the students must show diligence and excellence and be in need of financial assistance for their campus lives. The amount of scholarships, will be doubled next year.
METRO: What triggered the foundation idea?
A: More than two years ago, Chen Fashu said he had been thinking for a long time about how to deal with his fortune. Chen said the money "couldn't be bought while you were born and neither be taken away when you say goodbye to the world". He was worried that if he left all his wealth to his children, it might ruin them if they couldn't handle the fortune properly. So he decided to leave some to his family but take a large section to help people who need it. Then I persuaded him that it would be more helpful to set up a foundation than just donating money.
METRO: How do you respond to suspicions that Chen did it to promote New Huadu or that he was trying to evade tax?
A: Anything that far exceeds common perceptions has to pass a test named "suspicion". But we are not affected by such suspicions or criticisms. If the 8.3 billion yuan were to be spent on public relations, we might get better publicity than we would from donating to charity. In addition, it's impossible to escape tax. Though we hope to be applauded, we don't fear hissing. I believe we are doing a great business ever since.
METRO: What do you think of today's charity environment?
A: I have to say it still remains immature. Much of the public have such prejudices that if you are rich, you definitely should donate.
To a certain extent, it's the psychological reflection of the public's hostility to the rich. But considering China's financial environment and the growing polarization of the rich and poor, the hostility makes some sense.
METRO: What's the perfect charity blueprint for you?
A: A walk in the sunshine and to do everything in a transparent way. No fear of suspicions and to take every step steadily. It's still hard to compare what we are doing in China to how Westerners do it in Europe or the United States. They are better organized. We are still in a developing stage but I believe China's enterprises will shoulder more responsibilities such as charities when as they develop.