Significant Developments Unfolded within China’s Philanthropic Landscape in 2023

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The year of 2023 showcased a blend of challenges and achievements, revealing the sectors enduring issues and resilience. From philanthropic controversies to influential initiatives, the industry embarked on a transformative journey. Here, we spotlight pivotal events that shaped China’s philanthropic narrative during this period.

1. The ‘Spring Warmth Action’ Aids Rural Communities Impacted By COVID

At the year’s onset, Tencent Foundation initiated the ‘Spring Warmth Action’ in partnership with multiple charitable organizations. They donated nearly 1 billion RMB (140 million USD) to assist rural communities coping with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative targeted upliftment in areas recently lifted from poverty, revolutionary base areas, and regions severely affected by the pandemic.

2. Chinese Philanthropy Extends Assistance to Victims of Turkey’s Earthquakes

In response to consecutive powerful earthquakes in Turkey, Chinese domestic social emergency teams, in collaboration with several foundations such as the China Rural Development Foundation and China Red Cross Foundation, deployed 441 personnel to provide relief in the affected regions.

3. The Beijing Gratitude Foundation’s Copyright Infringement Case Concludes with a Final Court Ruling

In February, the Tianjin High People’s Court delivered a conclusive judgment, favoring the Beijing Gratitude Foundation in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Samsung China. The dispute revolved around Samsung’s unauthorized use of the trademark “One School, One Dream” during the 2021 Children’s Day, sparking a legal conflict between the involved parties.

4. The Launch of the ‘Charity Impact White Paper 2022’and ‘Internet Philanthropy: ‘China Model’’

In February, the comprehensive ’Charity Impact White Paper 2022’ was published, encompassing reports on the philanthropic activities and behaviors of 34 influential philanthropists. Subsequently, at the China Internet Philanthropy Summit in May, the unveiling of =’Internet Philanthropy: ‘China Model’’ outlined a a feasible approach to reform traditional philanthropic development using internet tools and digital technology.

5. Action Taken Against Deceptive ’Fake Charity’ Videos

The increasing popularity of online video platforms led to a concerning surge in deceptive ’fake charity’ content, drawing legislative attention during the 2023 National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Several political advisors proposed measures aimed at anti-fraud initiatives within the philanthropic sector.

6. Legal Dispute Arises from Unfulfilled Donation Pledge by China University of Mining and Technology Alumnus

The legal conflict between China University of Mining and Technology and its alumnus Wu You gained attention when the university filed a lawsuit against Wu for not fulfilling an 11 million RMB (1.5 million USD) donation pledge made during the institution’s 110th-anniversary celebration in 2019. The case proceeded to court, resulting in Wu being classified as a dishonest debtor and facing consumption restrictions.

7. Formation t of the Central Social Work Department (NGO in the Chinese context)

In March, the “Plan for the Reform of Party and State Institutions” unveiled the establishment of the Central Social Work Department, drawing considerable attention within the philanthropy sector. This department is responsible for overseeing public petitions, guiding the collection of public suggestions, coordinating grassroots governance, and overseeing the party work of national industry associations and chambers of commerce.

8. Formation of the China Charity Federation’s Communication Committee

In April, the China Charity Federation Communication Committee was officially established with the goal of unifying diverse efforts to bolster the high-quality advancement of charity endeavors in China. Eminent figures from both the philanthropic and media sectors, such as Zhang Xinxin, the former president of China News Service, were appointed to crucial positions within the committee.

9. Grassroots Rescue Teams Assist A Flood-affected Areas in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region

In late July, extensive rainfall-triggered floods struck Beijing, Hebei, and other neighboring regions, causing substantial casualties and property damage. Grassroots rescue teams, in collaboration with numerous foundations and enterprises, actively engaged in relief operations. . Organizations such as China Social Welfare Foundation, Shenzhen One Foundation Public Welfare Foundation, ByteDance Foundation, and others offered support through diverse channels.

10. Beijing Red Cross Underwent Public Scrutiny Regarding Donated Funds

In early August, the Beijing Red Cross came under public scrutiny due to the handling of two donations it received. Concerns were raised about the substantial accommodation expenses for a condolence event and the return of donated items to the donor’s area. Public skepticism centered around the transparency and rationale behind the organization’s financial transactions.

11. Investigation into Alleged Misappropriation of Millions in Life-saving Funds by China Children’s Charity Federation

In September, an emergency aid project for children with serious illnesses managed by the China Children’s Charity Federation faced allegations of embezzlement involving an individual named Ke Mouxiao. This incident triggered a broader investigation into the potential misappropriation of millions in crucial funds. Following this, the Ministry of Civil Affairs deployed an investigative team to the foundation to address concerns and rectify any violations.

12. Increase in Billionaire Philanthropists Doubles to 34 Individuals

In November, the 2023 Hurun Philanthropy List disclosed that the count of Chinese billionaire philanthropists had doubled to 34 individuals compared to a decade ago. The report also underscored that 67 percent of these philanthropists made donations under personal or family names, while 33 percent contributed under corporate identities.

13. Supporting the Mental health of Children in Difficult Situations

In November, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, along with the Ministry of Education, and three other departments, jointly released guidelines aimed at bolstering mental health support for children. The directive highlighted initiatives including reinforcing mental health education, implementing mental health monitoring, establishing effective care referral channels, among other measures.

14. Framework for Collaborative Charity Development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region

In November, philanthropic associations from Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei signed a cooperative framework to establish a mutual assistance mechanism. The agreement aimed to strengthen collaboration, promote information sharing, and optimize resource allocation to foster high-quality charitable development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

15. Lei Jun’s Monumental ¥1.3 Billion Donation to His Alma Mater

Lei Jun, the founder and CEO of Xiaomi, made a landmark donation of 1.3 billion RMB (183 million USD) to his alma mater, Wuhan University. The generous contribution prioritized bolstering fundamental research and technological innovation in computer science, alongside supporting student development initiatives.

16. Foundations Unite to Assist Victims of the Gansu Earthquake

On December 18, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Gansu, resulting in substantial casualties and widespread destruction. Numerous foundations promptly mobilized to offer aid. The Ministry of Civil Affairs orchestrated and directed various organizations in their contributions to the disaster relief endeavors.

17. Finalization of Amendments to the Charity Law

The year concluded with a momentous stride as the National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved amendments to the Charity Law on December 29. These revisions aimed to bolster emergency charitable mechanisms, enhance promotional measures, regulate charitable activities, and reinforce supervision. These amendments signify a cruicial advancement towards fostering transparency, accountability, and sustainable growth within China’s philanthropic sector.

Looking back on the events of 2023, the evolving philanthropic landscape in China presents both challenges and opportunities. These developments stand as a compass for the sector’s future, guiding stakeholders towards a more resilient and impactful philanthropic ecosystem.