Ex-premier named a top philanthropist

By An Baijie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-18 08:04:08

Former premier Zhu Rongji has been named as one of the nation's leading philanthropists for donating 20 million yuan ($3.3 million) last year to establish a charity foundation to improve education in poverty-stricken regions.

Zhu ranked 70th on the list of China's top 100 donors in 2013, which was released on Thursday by the China Philanthropy Research Institute.

Ranking No 1 on the list was Hainan Airlines Group, with a total donation of 8.51 billion yuan.

It's the first time a former government leader has been on the annual list since it was launched in January 2012.

Zhu, 85, was China's premier from March 1998 to March 2003. He was noted for launching bold economic reforms of State-owned enterprises and promoting the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy.

Zhu created the Practical Education Foundation in January last year. The foundation is aimed at helping students from poor families, improving teaching facilities in less developed regions and encouraging children to achieve better academic performances.

In August, the foundation offered 1 million yuan to reward excellent teachers and finance poor students in the Xiangxi Tu and Miao autonomous prefecture in Hunan province.

The foundation also donated funds to improve students' food and renovate cafeterias in three primary and middle schools in Jishou, Hunan province.

The former premier funded the foundation through sales revenue from his books. Zhu said he would donate all royalties when his first book, Zhu Rongji Meets the Press, was published in January 2009.

The book, a compilation of transcripts from his news conferences, was an immense success. Sales hit 700,000 copies in the first week of its release, and it was named "best book of the year" on several bestseller lists that year.

Zhu published his second book, Record of Zhu Rongji's Talks, in 2011.

And last year, his third book, Records of Zhu Rongji's Talks in Shanghai, was published. It includes speeches, photos, letters and lectures written between 1987 and 1991, when he held leading posts in the city including mayor and Party chief.

More retired State leaders are expected to be named as top donors in the future, as many of them have established charity foundations in recent years, said Wang Zhenyao, head of the One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University.

Former leaders' high-profile philanthropy will set an example for the public and promote charity nationwide, said Wang, a former social welfare official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Li Ruihuan, former chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, had donated more than 35.26 million yuan as of September last year to finance students from poor families, the Beijing News reported.

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