Pony Ma, the founder and CEO of Chinese internet giant Tencent, said Monday that he plans to donate 100 million of Tencent’s shares to the firm’s charity foundation. The shares in the Hong Kong-listed company closed at HK$165.70 a piece on the same day, which puts the donation at a market cap of about $US2.1 billion.

The shares will be donated through an unspecified period of time and will go towards supporting medical, educational and environmental causes in China through cooperation with charity programs and projects, the company announced.

Despite fevered economic growth, China lags behind when it comes to charity, partly due to China’s tradition of passing fortunes through a family line. An anecdote that best demonstrates this is that a great proportion of Chinese moguls turned down the invitation to a philanthropy dinner invite from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett in 2010 for fear of being asked to make a donation.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.