China's Most Generous: Examining Trends in Contemporary Chinese Philanthropy


Thursday, April 30, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Virtual event

Join the Ash Center for a virtual conversation about trends in contemporary Chinese philanthropy with the China Philanthropy Project team Edward Cunningham, Director of Ash Center China Programs, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; and Yunxin Li, Research and Data Analyst, Ash Center China Programs. Wenchi Yu, Ash Center Nonresident Research Fellow, Head of Global Public Policy at VIPKid, will moderate.

Virtual Event

Event Description 

The growth of private wealth is one of the most consequential aspects of reform in modern China. Over the past four decades, China’s rapid economic growth has given rise to a generation of wealthy individuals, influential corporations, and everyday citizens with a measure of disposable income. Some members of this generation are seeking to create meaningful change and to give back to their communities through the practice of philanthropy. Others are attempting to transfer such practices and lessons to their own children—the next generation. Yet others are engaged in activities that are seemingly more instrumental in nature and encouraged by the state, party, or business leadership. The appearance of such new faces and new giving vehicles marks a new era in the history of modern Chinese philanthropy. Yet traditions of benevolent societies, clan-based support networks, temple associations, and voluntarism have long been present in China, coexisting alongside state-affiliated social welfare institutions throughout many periods of Chinese history. These traditions do shape Chinese giving in important ways, and result in modes of giving that are often coordinated through employment-related, government-related, and other “top-down” rather than “bottom-up” means.
The goal of the China Philanthropy Project at the Ash Center is to contribute to the conversation about notions of generosity in China and to examine Chinese political economy through the lens of philanthropy.