OPINION / VIEWPOINT
Political bias prevents Westerners from fairly assessing Jack Ma's philanthropic efforts
Published: Apr 30, 2020 10:03 PM

Jack Ma. Photo: Xinhua


The latest weapon by some Western media outlets and observers to politicize China's COVID-19 related donations is to attack Jack Ma. 

Since February, the philanthropist, who has been committing to charity after retiring as retail giant Alibaba's chairman, has donated a huge amount of essential medical supplies to more than 150 countries, regions and organizations, offering the most-needed help for those grappling with the COVID-19 epidemic. However, some Western observers and media outlets accused Ma of "following Party guidelines" to provide donations, claiming his philanthropic efforts were capitalized by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to "fix China's reputation." This didn't come out of nowhere, given their deeply-rooted prejudice against China and the CPC.    

Assessing Ma and the philanthropy he is engaging in should be no different from judging Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. The billionaire philanthropist resigned from the board of Microsoft to focus on philanthropy, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private charity in the world, with billions of dollars having been spent on public health goals it has identified. 

It's Ma's dream and ambition to follow the footsteps of Gates. On the eve of his retirement, Ma told Bloomberg that he was inspired by Gates to set up his own charitable foundation. "There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates," he said.

Since the spread of the pandemic, Ma provided countries and regions in need with batches of emergency medical supplies, including face masks, protective suits and face shields, to combat the coronavirus, showing that he is striving to realize his ideals and beliefs. What he has done represents human morality and has assisted those who cry for help. This is similar to the charitable efforts of his Western counterparts, such as Gates. But why is Ma's philanthropy viewed through a political lens? Why can't China have Gates-like entrepreneurs and philanthropists?  

Quite a number of Westerners harbor ingrained prejudice against China. They tend to link whatever Chinese people do and say with the CPC. This has prevented them from grasping the real China. They wrongly believe philanthropists like Gates can only be nurtured in an environment the Western countries have. 

The fact is as long as they can let go of their prejudice against China and the Western sense of superiority and think out of the box, they will realize that Ma has become China's Bill Gates under the country's market economy environment, proving China's market economy can create outstanding entrepreneurs and philanthropists as well. But it seems too difficult for them to acknowledge that the economic policies implemented by the CPC conform to the laws of market economy.  

As the pandemic continues to rage on, many Western countries are struggling in the fight to curb the mounting number of infections and deaths, while developing countries face greater risks to their people's lives and economies. At such a tragic moment, the world needs philanthropists like Ma. Each of his donations conveys goodwill and fulfills morality and responsibility to save lives. It deserves fair evaluation without political bias.  

It's true Ma and what he is doing will inevitably help increase China's influence and reputation. This is a simultaneous result of his philanthropy. China doesn't have to capitalize on or hype it. For those who misinterpret Ma's endeavors with prejudice, hearsay and groundless speculations, they should keep quiet and credit Ma. He deserves it. 


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