China’s largest technology companies are contributing to efforts to battle the deadly coronavirus which has immobilized the country, donating millions in the form of cash, relief supplies, logistical support, and medical research.

Why it matters: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relatively recent concept in China, where the country’s corporate law first included mention of social responsibility in 2006. As Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu look to compete globally, they are embracing social and environmental practices in alignment with international CSR standards.

Chinese tech firms brace for impact from coronavirus

Details: As of Feb. 1, nearly 150 Chinese tech firms have donated a combined total of more than RMB 4 billion ($570 million) for efforts to treat those affected by the outbreak, according to Chinese media reports. The funds were raised in addition to other forms of support from medical goods to telecommunications and logistics.

  • Alibaba established an RMB 1 billion public health fund to purchase medical products and ensure hospital food supplies. Baidu and Tencent set up RMB 300 million funds each, while Meituan and Bytedance offered RMB 200 million each in aid.
  • Alibaba-backed Cainiao Logistics announced on Sunday that it will provide free logistical support to relief materials delivered from more than 38 countries and regions.
  • Starting Feb. 2, Ant Financial’s online commercial lender Mybank reduced interest rates for business loans by 10% for 1.8 million small business owners in Hubei, where the outbreak was first reported, including 1.5 million mom-and-pop-type store owners and 300,000 medical supply dealers.
  • As of Jan. 28, JD Logistics had transported nearly 70 tons of medical supplies from cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou to Wuhan via rail.
  • Pinduoduo, which set up a RMB 100 million fund on Jan. 29, shipped on Jan. 31 100 tons of fruits and vegetables to Wuhan hospitals.
  • Bytedance has offered for all the features on its enterprise messaging and productivity app Lark for free to support efforts to work remotely.

Context: The current novel coronavirus has infected 14,557 people as of Feb. 2 , according to the World Health Organization. Infections have been identified in more than 20 countries.

  • The catastrophic Sichuan earthquake of 2008, which claimed 70,000 lives, appeared to be a turning point for Chinese CSR efforts. Donation to the victims of the earthquake reached an unprecedented $1.5 billion.
  • A growing number of Chinese tech billionaires are doubling their philanthropic efforts, similar to their western counterparts such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder who committed 99% of his company shares to charity initiatives.
  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma pledged RMB 100 million to “support the development of a coronavirus vaccine.” Pony Ma, the founder and CEO of Tencent, donated 100 million of Tencent’s shares to the firm’s charity foundation in 2016.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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