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Major Chinese firms donate USD 800 million during coronavirus outbreak

Despite the economic pain, businesses embraced a range of measures to overcome the epidemic crisis.

Major Chinese firms including Tencent and Alibaba have made cash donations totaling more than RMB 5.5 billion (USD 800 million) in a bid to help China overcome the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report from 36Kr’s Venture Capital Research Institute.

The development comes as the economic impact of the viral outbreak, which began in Wuhan last December, has started to take its toll. The report, which surveyed 390 companies and 60 private equity and venture capital firms between Jan. 22 to Feb. 7, reveals how large businesses heeded the national government’s call for corporate assistance to tackle the emergency.

Businesses have also pledged to donate up to 31 million masks, 780,000 million medical protective suits, and 87,000 goggles, among other measures.

Among the 21 firms which shared information about their donations, 8 made donations to government-backed charities based in Hubei province—four donated to the Hubei Charity General Association, while the same number donated to the Wuhan Charity General Association.

Seven firms donated to the national Red Cross, China’s biggest charity, while others have shunned the organization after local branches in Hubei came under fire for being slow to distribute medical supplies.

Major tech firms, including Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, were among the eight firms that announced the establishment of new specialized funds to distribute donations worth RMB 1 billion, RMB 1.5 billion, and RMB 300 million respectively.

China’s three major telecom carriers—China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom—pledged a combined total of RMB 120 million to relief efforts.

Rebates and free services

The report also found that the healthcare sector has led charity efforts, with up to 73 firms providing contributions. Firms in the education sector came a distant second, with up to 50 firms participating.

Many companies have opted to provide free online classes or medical consultations, as many Chinese people choose to stay home. Among the 186 firms to announce free online services, many are bidding to attract new users to their service.

Software giant Unity Technologies has launched a four-month package for Chinese users to use its online learning platform Unity Learn Premium, for free. Other firms have tapped streaming services and popular social media apps like Tiktok to broadcast fitness and language classes.

Despite bearing the brunt of the epidemic’s economic impact, 22 firms in the property sector and 16 in the automobile sector have also chipped in. Wanda, the world’s largest commercial conglomerate, has given commercial tenants around the country a one-month rental rebate as malls face sharp declines in visitor volumes. Red Star Macalline, which operates around 300 shopping malls and 364 home improvement centers throughout China, has announced similar measures.

Besides donations, a range of logistics firms have also launched services to help people cooped up at home. Food delivery giant Meituan-Dianping announced it would launch a “contactless” delivery service in conjunction with close to 7000 supermarkets in Wuhan to help residents purchase their groceries safely.

Others were even more creative. Fortune Capital, a Shenzhen-based venture capital firm, has donated six ambulances to emergency services.

The coronavirus, responsible for the disease known as COVID-19, has already infected over 80,000 people across mainland China and caused more than 30 million Chinese firms to introduce work stoppages in a bid to control the virus’s spread.

The original article was written by Simone of 36Kr, KrASIA’s parent company. 

The English version was adapted by Luo De Wei. Contact the writer at luodewei@36kr.com