Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chinese Suspicious of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates Road Show

I have already discussed (Gates and Buffett Fail at Humanitarian Economics) the curious Warren Buffett-Bill Gates U.S. road show where they visited with the wealthiest Americans and asked them to pledge half their wealth to philanthropy.

Now Buffet and Gates are taking their bizarre act to China. The Chinese who are just now emerging from the dark years of intense government control are rightfully suspicious.

FT reports:

Having persuaded many of their billionaire peers in the US into giving away chunks of money, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are travelling to China to host newly minted Chinese tycoons to sell them on the value of philanthropy.

But the fear of being seduced into giving up part of their fortunes might have scared some of the tycoons away from a dinner that the crusading US billionaires are hosting in Beijing this month.

The exclusive list of attendees includes Zhang Xin, CEO of Chinese SOHO China, the real estate developer, and Wang Chuanfu, head of BYD, the car and battery maker, who counts Mr Buffett as an investor.

But according to the Chinese media, the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Beijing is worried that some invited guests might be reluctant to come.

“A small number of people declined the invitation to attend, while many of the invitees called to ask whether they would be required to pledge a donation at the dinner,” the director of the foundation’s China programme, Ray Yip, was quoted as saying.

“Their biggest fear is being embarrassed and put on the spot.” Mr Yip’s spokesperson did not dispute his comments, carried on a major news portal and the Economic Observer, when contacted on Friday.

Mr Yip said the dinner was intended to allow Mr Gates and Mr Buffett to get to know friends and exchange ideas about partners interested in charity, not to convince Chinese tycoons to make donations...

Rupert Hoogewerf, who compiles the Hurun Report, China’s rich list, said many Chinese remained sceptical of the motivations of people donating money.

“The most important stakeholder in all charities in China is always the government, and there is usually a suspicion that a lot of donations are not pure philanthropy but rather influence-buying by wealthy business people.”
Although it is not clear what is behind the Buffett-Gates bizarre philanthropy show, it is clear that the Gates foundation does heavy partnering with various government agencies, both domestic and international. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, as Kimberly Dennis, CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, pointed out Gates the philanthropist has not come anywhere near the success of Gates the businessman.


  1. Maybe the great philanthropists needed to simply air the recent documentary "The Art of the Steal" to help demonstrate what philanthro-power is all about.

  2. Bill Gates is the epitome of evil, as much as any government. His "charity" is a means to reinvest in Microsoft, as what is often donated is licenses to MS products at zero marginal cost. But the other B&MG Foundation purpose is to "reduce the world population" through, in Bill Gates word - "vaccines". Why send people to gas chambers when Bill can get them to go to the doctor with the same effect, only delayed.