BEIJING – As the coronavirus spread, the world’s richest communist dug into his deep pockets.
Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and a member of the ruling Communist Party, helped to pay for 1,000 ventilators delivered to New York in April. Ma's foundation also is giving ventilators, masks and other supplies in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The pandemic marks the debut of China's business elite as global humanitarian donors alongside their American, European and Japanese counterparts. Ma, Alibaba and other Chinese companies and tycoons are donating hundreds of millions of dollars of medical supplies, food and cash in dozens of countries.
Video service TikTok has promised $250 million to pay health workers and help others hurt by the outbreak. Tencent, operator of the popular WeChat messaging service, pledged $100 million and says it has sent masks and protective gear to 15 countries including the United States.
Other companies including computer maker Lenovo and electric automaker BYD Auto have given masks and other supplies. Haier Smart Home, a global appliance maker, says its factory in Pakistan is distributing food to neighbors.
That gives donors a chance to repair China’s image and gain credit with President Xi Jinping's government, which faces criticism its secrecy and delay in responding to the virus that emerged in central China in December made the outbreak worse.
“No single country can handle this crisis independently,” Ma said during an online seminar organized by his foundation for African doctors to speak with Chinese experts who fought the outbreak.
This wave of Chinese donations is notable for “giving internationally, which is usually quite limited in scope,” said Edward Cunningham, who researches Chinese philanthropy at the Ash Center of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, in an email.