Billionaire Chen Guangbiao took out full page ads in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal this week, inviting 1,000 underprivileged Americans to dine with him in a bid to change perceptions of the wealthy Chinese.
"I want to spread the message in the U.S. that there are good philanthropists in China and not all are crazy spenders on luxury goods," Chen told the South China Morning Post
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"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," he said. "I can’t bear the sight of it, because all they do is splurge on luxury goods, gambling, and prostitution, and very few of them sincerely live up their social responsibility. I'm trying to stimulate them to do good."
Chen's event is being held at the Boat House restaurant in Central Park on June 25, and he's promising $300 to each of the 1,000 participants. He is also "teaming up with a famous American charity" to host the luncheon, and hopes participants will spend the money on occupational training. He hopes to sing "We Are The World" at the event, the pop hit written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for USA for Africa.
According to The Independent (UK)
, Chen is listed as one of the 400 wealthiest people in his home country thanks to his recycling fortune and philanthropy work. He is known for his eccentricity inside and outside of China, and has made headlines in both places many times.
In China, he gave 100 yuan ($16) each to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and handed out cans of "fresh air" in Beijing to bring attention to its rampant pollutions problems. "If we don't act in the next 10 years, our descendants will have to carry oxygen tanks and wear masks all the time," he told reporters at the time.
In the U.S., Chen's English-language business card raised eyebrows with its long list of appellations that precede his name, like "Most Influential Person Of China" and "Most Well-known and Beloved Chinese Role Model."
He later claimed he was good "at working with Jews" and expressed interest in buying or investing in The New York Times. The Grey Lady declined his offer for a meeting, however.
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