Zuckerberg sets an example for Chinese society

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-3 0:18:01

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, and his wife Priscilla Chan welcomed the birth of their daughter with the stunning announcement that they would give 99 percent of Facebook shares for charitable use on Tuesday, currently worth around $45 billion. In a letter to his baby girl, Zuckerberg wrote, "we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today."

As an icon to many young Chinese people, Zuckerberg's generous charitable plans have touched a nerve here. Besides praise, some Internet users questioned his motives and reflected on how Chinese entrepreneurs should use their sizable fortunes. 

Philanthropy is one of the most wonderful undertakings of human beings. But beautiful stories in which entrepreneurs spread their massive wealth for charitable purposes mostly occur in the US. Chinese entrepreneurs either do nothing for charity or make a lot of trouble after devoting themselves to the sector.

In philanthropy, the US already has sophisticated instruments such as tax deductions that encourage donations to charity. The public also respond nicely to philanthropic behavior from the business sector. We seldom hear of scandals or disputes over charitable activity in the US.

Tycoons in China are a fairly recent phenomenon. Most Chinese entrepreneurs were  explorers in times of reform and have endured many hardships and risks. Many are seized by insecurity derived beyond business and the overall environment doesn't enable careful consideration about how to properly handle their fortunes. 

After long-term poverty, China's social classes feel insufficiently stable to disregard the importance of their wealth. In fact, the philanthropy fad in the US started just after Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller gave away their wealth for philanthropic use in the early 20th century.  

A society is always proud of having philanthropists like Zuckerberg, but not everyone can do as he did.

The public's attitude toward wealth can guide social morality. Entrepreneurs that give away their wealth need to feel honor and security and be able to continue their undertakings. This entails enormous social development.

Zuckerberg's example should not be used just as a whip to urge on Chinese wealthy people. At a different phase of wealth accumulation from the US, in China improved institutions and time and space are needed for the public to dwell on the approaches to spread their wealth. Most importantly, wealth needs to be utilized properly to promote social progress.

Zuckerberg and his philanthropist fellows have set an inspiring example for Chinese society with their interpretation of the fundamental meaning of wealth which will spur more thinking in China. It will be an eternal topic of social governance to bring out the good side of society at different times. 


Posted in: Observer

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