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article imageChinese tycoon hands out food and cash to U.S. poor

By Ryan Hite     Jun 19, 2014 in Business
New York - Chen Guangbiao is one of China's leading philanthropists, but he sure likes to talk about it and about himself a lot. His latest announcement is either a genuine act of kindness, a stroke of his own ego, or maybe a little of both.
Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao has a full-page bilingual advertisement in the New York Times, inviting poor Americans to a charity lunch and offering cash.
According to Chinese media, the ad appeared in the New York Times print edition on Monday, announcing that he would host a charity luncheon at New York's Loeb Boathouse on June 25 for a thousand "poor and destitute Americans." Each participant would also receive $300 with no strings attached.
Chen, who is known for theatrical stunts in his philanthropy, has a photo of himself in the ad placed side-by-side with a picture of Lei Feng, the Chinese soldier from the time of Mao who is celebrated as a selfless model citizen, even today. The title above the images says, "China's 'Lei Feng for a new era.'"
Those who wish to join the luncheon need to RSVP via email.
Chen said he was hoping the event would show the U.S. people that there are Chinese philanthropists out there.
"There are many wealthy Chinese billionaires, but most of them gained their wealth from market speculation and colluding with government officials while destroying the environment. I can't bear the sight of it," Chen told the South China Morning Post this week.
Making his fortune from recycling domestic waste and construction materials in China, he has been in the media spotlight in recent years for his publicity stunts promoting his causes. He arrived at the scene of the horrific 2013 Lushan earthquake in Sichuan hours after the disaster took place and handed out cash to the victims.
Chen also tried unsuccessfully to buy the New York Times as part of his campaign to develop closer ties between U.S. and China. He recently expressed a desire to entice discussions to buy the opinion section and fill it with articles about environmental protection and charity.
As the founder of the Huangpu Renewable Resources Utilization Group, Chen has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes over many years and has made it many times onto Forbes' list of Asia's leading philanthropists.
But not everyone is taken with Chen's flashy generosity and persona.
Jeremy Goldkorn, of Chinese media firm Danwei, says: "Chen is a clown whose so-called philanthropy appears to consist entirely of self-promotional stunts like giving handouts of cash in Taipei and New York, and cans of air to people in China."
Goldkorn has also tweeted once that Chen is the "greatest insult to the Chinese people."
Critics also find it difficult to take Chen seriously when his English business card lists a very long string of self-aggrandizing titles.
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