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Rich Chinese reluctant to meet with U.S. barons

09-06-2010 09:56 BJT

BEIJING, Sep. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation denied a widespread belief that the upcoming trip of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to China in late September aims to persuade Chinese billionaires to make charity pledges.

The director of the foundation last Thursday also did not make public who has been invited to a philanthropic gathering with the pair.

Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the foundation, and Buffett, an investment baron, are both among the wealthiest people in the world. They initiated the Giving Pledge campaign in a bid to call on the most affluent families and individuals in the US to donate at least 50 percent of their fortune to philanthropy in their lifetimes or soon after their deaths. The duo announced in August that their action was backed by 40 American magnates.

In China, 50 super-rich Chinese recently received an invitation to a banquet with Buffett and Gates during their visit to Beijing on Sept 29. However, some of them reportedly hesitated to accept the invitation, because they were worried that the cost of the evening would be charity pledges.

Ye Lei, the China office chief for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the two had no desire to urge Chinese tycoons to make such pledges.

"The visit has two missions: to advocate philanthropy and to learn about the development of philanthropy in China," Ye said. "They're coming here to see whether in the future there might be some opportunities for cooperation or the establishment of a charitable coalition."

"They want to spend some time in China meeting and exchanging views with people who are either wealthy or experienced in doing charity work here," Ye added.

He further explained that he could not reveal who had been invited out of respect for some guests' request for privacy. Those who want their identities exposed have already announced the news themselves.

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