Tags: Buffett | gates | China | Charity | Exceeded | Expectations

Buffett: China Charity Meeting Exceeded Expectations

Thursday, 30 September 2010 02:29 PM

Warren Buffett said the meeting he and Bill Gates had in Beijing with 50 Chinese leaders in business and philanthropy exceeded his expectations.

Gates and Buffett, the world’s second- and third-richest men, didn’t identify any of the individuals they met with to discuss charitable giving or disclose the details of any conversations during a press conference in Beijing today about their China trip

“We’ve more than met our own expectations,” Buffett said. “When we met with those 50 people last night, I had no idea what sort of reception we would receive but it couldn’t have been better.”

Buffett, 80, is depleting his fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine at $45 billion, through donations. He said today 99 percent of his wealth will be distributed to charity within 10 years of his death. Buffett has pledged the bulk of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and makes annual gifts to charities seeking to ease hunger, boost education in the U.S. and promote access to abortions.

Even without specific details on pledges, the visit is “a watershed for philanthropy in China,” Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun Report, which lists China’s wealthiest individuals, said in an interview today.

Wealth Creation

“Suddenly Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the two biggest authorities in the world, are talking to a group of entrepreneurs in China: The timing couldn’t be better,” Hoogewerf said. “It’s very fertile ground here in China. It’s going through a massive wealth-creation boom.”

The 90 minute meeting yesterday evening at the Chateau Laffitte Hotel in Beijing was moderated by Yang Lan, a Chinese talk show host, and was followed by a reception.

China will have to find its own approach to large-scale philanthropy, Buffett, chairman of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said yesterday.

Some wealthy Chinese declined an invitation to attend the gathering with Gates and Buffett, Chinese-language newspaper Economic Observer reported. Gates said two-thirds of those invited attended the event.

The charitable sector in China is still at a very early stage of development, said Gates, 54, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp. The relative lack of non-profit organizations is one of the biggest differences from the U.S. and an obstacle to philanthropic efforts in China, he said. As much of the wealth in China is new, people are still trying to figure out the best way to give, he said.

‘Big Dynastic Wealth’

Society isn’t well served when rich people primarily accumulate “big dynastic wealth” rather than give through charity, Gates said, even though ‘absolutely people should have that choice.”

In the U.S., Gates and Buffett are working to persuade fellow billionaires to give at least half their wealth to charity. They’ve signed up more than 30 philanthropists, including Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison and Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, to their Giving Pledge initiative.

Buffett said this month that he wasn’t going to China to pressure people to make donations. The billionaire said in a letter that he didn’t know if the Giving Pledge was the right approach for Chinese philanthropists.

“We did not pressure anybody, obviously, in China,” Buffett said today. “We have never asked anyone at all to sign anything or to stand up and agree to anything. That is just not our style.”

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Warren Buffett said the meeting he and Bill Gates had in Beijing with 50 Chinese leaders in business and philanthropy exceeded his expectations. Gates and Buffett, the world s second- and third-richest men, didn t identify any of the individuals they met with to discuss...
Thursday, 30 September 2010 02:29 PM
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