Tech

China’s tech giants pour billions into Xi’s vision of ‘common prosperity’

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The front of Alibaba’s Wangjing office in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2020.
Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Alibaba will invest 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) over the next few years into “common prosperity” initiatives, joining a chorus of technology giants pouring money into President Xi Jinping’s goal to spread wealth.

The Chinese e-commerce giant will put the money into 10 initiatives including technology innovation, economic development, high quality job creation and supporting vulnerable groups.

Last month, Xi called for the “reasonable adjustment of excessive incomes” and encouraged high income groups and businesses to “return more to society.”

“Alibaba is a beneficiary of the strong social and economic progress in China over the past 22 years. We firmly believe that if society is doing well and the economy is doing well, then Alibaba will do well,” said Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang.

“We are eager to do our part to support the realization of common prosperity through high-quality development.”

The call for common prosperity — the government’s push toward moderate wealth for all — has been answered by technology giants which are currently under intense regulatory scrutiny from Beijing.

China has introduced a slew of regulation around anti-monopoly and data security and protection.

Regulators have also fined Alibaba $2.8 billion in an anti-monopoly probe, dramatically cut the time under-18s are allowed to play online games, and opened a cybersecurity probe into ride-hailing giant Didi days after its U.S. IPO. There have been many other actions too.

Alibaba is not the only internet giant pledging support for Xi’s call to “common prosperity.”

Last month, Tencent said it would double the money it is putting toward social initiatives to 100 billion yuan. The money will go toward areas including rural revitalization and helping grow earnings for low-income groups.

Tencent said at the time that its actions were a proactive response to the “national strategy.” The gaming and social media company said it’s clear “we should promote common prosperity in stages,” and allow some people to get rich first then help others get wealthy.

China’s high-profile technology CEOs and founders have also pledged individual sums of money.

Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang, Meituan’s Wang Xing, and Xiaomi’s Lei Jun, have collectively donated billions of dollars to social causes.

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