Xinhua News reported that China’s largest internet e-commerce titan, Alibaba, has set up a fund called the Alibaba Foundation.

The initial fund of 50 million yuan is dedicated to the development and support of China’s environmental protection organizations. Additionally a portion of the funds will be directed at natural disaster relief, as well as to the poor and disabled. Most of the funds will mainly come from donations from Alibaba’s group of companies.

“The establishment of the foundation is aimed at creating a good environment for public welfareand arousing awareness among the company’s employees and the public over environmentalprotection,” said Jin Yuanying, secretary general of the foundation.

Such a move by Alibaba is a good example for other big and profitable Chinese companies to follow. The wealth of Chinese companies, driven by China’s economic boom, should lead them to consider what greater things can be achieved with their expanding profits. Hopefully Chinese companies will start to realize that chasing short-term profits at the expense of the environment is detrimental in the long term, to not only their profits but their health. This mind shift will take some time though

In many Western countries, social responsibility and environmental sustainability has existed for a long time. There is greater awareness, standards and laws enforced in relation to environmental pollution. Many companies create programs for their employees to participate or volunteer in, such as planting trees, picking up rubbish, giving out food to the homeless etc. There are very few companies in China that do such things.

But in China, such awareness is starting to grow and partly thanks to social media. Netizens on Weibo started to drum up discontent for China’s inaccurate public pollution data. The caused the government to fold to the mounting pressure and only this year have started to publicly release data measuring pollution measured by PM2.5, substantially more accurate than the previous PM10 measurement. However, many are suspicious of the readings accuracy.

Given China is still a developing country; it is understandable that there is still a long way to go. But it is promising to see Alibaba take a lead in the right direction.