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Richest Man Gives to Monastery Restoration

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The richest property tycoon in China promised to donate 1 billion yuan (US$150 million) for the restoration of a Buddhist monastery complex in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on Monday.

The chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, who ranked first on the Hurun Research Institute's China Property Rich List this year, promised to donate 1 billion yuan from his personal wealth of 28 billion yuan for the reconstruction of the Grand Bao'en Temple. A statement on the property developer's website said Wang will donate the money to the China Charity Federation in December, and the federation will allocate it to the city of Nanjing in three stages.

Wang said his donation is out of respect toward traditional Chinese culture, even though he is not a Buddhist, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

The company claimed on its website that 2.7 billion yuan, either from Wang's personal wealth or the company's profit, have been given out for philanthropy over the past 20 years.

The report on China's philanthropy development in 2009, released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences a week ago, said the private sector has been playing a leading role in China's charities as the donations from private-run enterprises made up about 63 percent of all enterprises that participated in philanthropy.

The report also recognized Chinese real estate companies' enthusiasm for charity.

"It's a good thing for entrepreneurs to donate for the protection of historical relics, as too much donation flows into the sectors of disaster relief, education and healthcare in China," said Deng Guosheng, deputy director of Non-Governmental Organization Research Center at Tsinghua University.

However, some netizens said they cannot understand such donations.

"It's unnecessary to rebuild some historical site which no longer exists, and what you are going to build is actually something made by modern people which has little historical or cultural value. It's just a waste of money and resources," a netizen named Song Hubin wrote on Tianya, a popular online forum.

The Grand Bao'en Temple was considered one of the three most famous temples in Nanjing in the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

(China Daily November 10, 2010)

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