Chinese Philanthropy Gets Official

Chris Carothers and Kersten Zhang write on the new Beijing Normal University One Foundation Research Institute, the first of its kind in China. From the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Blog:

For the past two decades, Wang has worked in the Ministry of Civil Affairs. He is famous in China for his efforts to help victims during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. He has also promoted care for orphans and asked the government for more money for the elderly. But Wang wants more than government support for China’s poor. He wants professional, sustainable, private philanthropy to grow.

Now he has left the ministry to head the new Beijing Normal University One Foundation Philanthropy Research Institute full-time. While Wang has long been a firm believer in the importance of charity, one of his subordinates says that makes him “a rather lonely person” in official circles, according to a 21st Century Business Herald article.

Charity is an emerging field in China, a sign of economic growth and a response to rising inequality. Traditionally, financial assistance came either from the state or from extended family networks. The Chinese government has long spoken of “serving the people” and “serving society.” However, China lags behind Western countries in private donations.

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