Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will host a dinner for a select band of Chinese billionaires on Wednesday to promote giving, dubbed by media the “Ba Bi” — Chinese for “Barbie” — dinner after the Chinese transliterations of their names.
The invitation list is unclear. Chen Guangbiao, worth an estimated $440 million according to last year’s Hurun rich list, has made a big deal about his attendance, and his efforts to get people to sign up. Others have been more tight-lipped.
Media speculation has centered on the traditional reticence of many rich Chinese to discuss their wealth in public, fearful of exposing fortunes larger than the government or rivals had calculated, inviting unwanted attention from tax collectors and hatred from millions of have-nots.
Private philanthropy became obsolete after the 1949 revolution when the Communist Party introduced a cradle-to-grave welfare system. But the country’s wealth gap widened after it embraced capitalist reforms in the late 1970s.