Gates, Buffett 'Amazed' by China's Interest in Philanthropy

Billionaire philantrophists Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Photo by: Sebastian Derungs and Javier

U.S. billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have described their recent meeting with top Chinese businessmen as a “complete success,” news agencies report.

In a Sept. 29 dinner meeting with 50 of China’s wealthiest people, Gates and Buffett shared their own experiences with philanthropy in a bid to promote charity in the country, which has recently surpassed Japan as the second largest economy in the world.

“We had a great event where over two out of three people we invited came,” Gates said as quoted by CNN. “It was fantastic to see the energy and interest in philanthropy.”

“I was amazed last night, really, at how similar the questions and discussions and all that was to the dinners we had in the U.S.,” Buffett shared according to The New York Times. “The same motivations tend to exist. The mechanism for manifesting those motivations may differ from country to country.”

Chinese media had earlier been filled with reports that more than half of the businessmen that Gates and Buffett invited to the meeting declined to attend because they feared they will be pressured to make huge commitments.

Gates and Buffett are known for their success in persuading U.S. billionaires to commit to the Giving Pledge initiative, which encourages the wealthiest businessmen to pledge at least half of their wealth to charity.

The duo clarified in a press conference that they did not persudae the Chinese businessmen to commit to anything during the dinner, which was co-organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the China-based Sun Culture Foundation.

“We wouldn’t be dreaming of asking people at an event in China to stand up and make any commitment, it’s just not our style,” Buffett explained as quoted by CNN.

He added: “Bill and I will not be calling anybody. What happens in China will depend on what the Chinese people feel about a project of this sort.”

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.