One of China’s richest e-commerce entrepreneurs will donate shares in his flagship JD.com currently worth $2.28 billion to charity, the company said in a US stock filing, making him the latest Chinese tech billionaire to donate an unprecedented sum amid Beijing’s efforts to rein in the power of Big Tech and boost “common prosperity”.
JD.com did not name the foundation to which Liu will donate the shares. As per Chinese media reports, Liu is likely to donate to education and environmental causes.
JD.com “has been notified by Mr Richard Qiangdong Liu, the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the company, that he will donate 62,376,643 Class B ordinary shares of the company to a third-party foundation for charitable purposes,” the announcement said. JD.com’s shares trade at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and on the Nasdaq.
Liu, 47, opened a retail shop in 1998, but closed it six years later and moved the business online, creating one of China’s most powerful Internet businesses; its US-listed rivals include Alibaba Group and Pinduoduo. Walmart owns 9.3% of Beijing-headquartered JD.com.
Liu has donated in various amounts before, but Wednesday’s announcement, equivalent to 15 billion Chinese yuan, marks his largest commitment yet. Between 2017 and 2018, Liu donated a total of 6 billion yuan on three occasions to educational institutions and other social enterprises in China, say Chinese media reports.
In December, China’s State Council issued a directive on how it plans to develop China’s digital economy, stressing that issues of inequality, inadequacy and unregulated growth have emerged in the economy.
Liu has been avoiding publicity since August 2018, after he was accused of assaulting an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. The charges were later dropped as prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence.
JD deems itself as “a new type of real economy enterprise” that possesses both digital and technological capabilities, and the DNA and features of a tangible business.