E-commerce giant Alibaba Group (阿里巴巴) yesterday said it would spend 100 billion yuan (US$15.5 billion) to support Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) campaign to spread the nation’s prosperity more evenly, adding to pledges by tech companies that are under pressure to pay for the Chinese Communist Party’s political initiatives.
Alibaba said it would invest in 10 projects for job creation, “care for vulnerable groups” and technology innovation. Its 100 billion yuan pledge includes 20 billion yuan for a fund to “cut income inequality” in the company’s home province of Zhejiang.
Alibaba and other Chinese tech giants, including games and social media service Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) have announced plans to invest in social welfare, technology development and other ruling party priorities in response to pressure to align with Beijing’s political and economic plans.
Xi’s “common prosperity” campaign calls for spreading the benefits from China’s economic growth more widely and narrowing one of the world’s widest gaps between an elite with more billionaires than the US and the poor majority in the 1.4 billion population.
“We firmly believe that if society is doing well and the economy is doing well, then Alibaba will do well,” CEO Daniel Zhang (張勇) said in a statement.
Beijing has launched anti-monopoly, data security and other crackdowns on Internet industries since late last year in an effort to tighten control over companies the CCP worries might be too big and independent.
The party tolerated a widening gap between China’s rich and poor as the economy boomed over the past three decades.
Xi, who took power in 2012, has called for renewing the party’s “original mission,” which includes eradicating poverty, raising incomes, and directing investment toward strategic technology and other initiatives.
Tencent last month promised 50 billion yuan for “common prosperity” initiatives in healthcare, education and rural development. That doubled the company’s spending on corporate social responsibility.
Another e-commerce company, Pinduoduo Inc (拼多多), last month promised to spend US$1.5 billion on agriculture and other rural development projects.
Alibaba reported a profit of 45.1 billion yuan in the quarter ending in June.
Founder Jack Ma (馬雲), who stepped down as chairman in 2019, has long been one of China’s most prominent charitable donors. His foundation shipped medical supplies to Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic and has given to education, health and environmental causes.
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