As deadly floods hit central Henan province, Chinese tech majors are jumping in to provide donations and aid to the disaster-hit area, collectively donating more than RMB 1 billion ($154.5 million) as of Thursday. 

Since Saturday, the area has been rocked by torrential rain and flooding, which has killed at least 33 people and displaced 3 million. Henan officials told state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday that the economic losses from the floods are expected to reach at least RMB 1.22 billion. 

Why it matters: Chinese tech companies are part of a larger, nationwide operation to provide relief to Henan.

  • Top Chinese companies are expected to provide relief in major crises. During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the tech industry led the drive, collectively donating RMB 3.42 billion, followed by the financial sector with RMB 1.93 billion, according to National Business Daily

Details: Tech majors Alibaba, ByteDance, Didi, Meituan, Pinduoduo, Tencent, Baidu, Kuaishou, and others have announced that they will donate funds to tackle the flooding in Henan. Alibaba and Ant Group donated the most, providing RMB 250 million. 

  • The Jack Ma Foundation contributed RMB 50 million, one-fifth of Alibaba and Ant’s RMB 250 million donation, according to an announcement on microblogging platform Weibo on Wednesday. 
  • ByteDance, Didi, Meituan, Pinduoduo, and Tencent each donated RMB 100 million. 
  • Meanwhile, Baidu donated RMB 90 million. Xiaomi, Kuaishou, and Vivo each provided RMB 50 million. Internet security company Qihoo 360 donated RMB 40 million. Electric carmakers XPeng and Li Auto donated RMB 15 million and RMB 10 million, respectively. 
  • Apart from funds, some tech firms also converted their service centers in flood-stricken areas to temporary food banks or shelters. Life services platform Meituan told Chinese media that the company had donated 630,000 essential items, including bottled water, rice, noodle, and other staples. Alibaba’s grocery unit Hema has delivered 17,000 servings of fresh food to front-line rescue workers. 
  • Since Tuesday, ride-hailing giant Didi temporarily suspended all local services in Zhengzhou, Henan’s capital, to protect drivers’ and passengers’ safety. The company said on Weibo that it had organized a fleet to deliver supplies and help rescue operations, evacuations, and transport health workers. 

Life-saving online doc: On Tuesday night, a university student from Henan nicknamed manto created an online spreadsheet to help people trapped in flood-hit areas broadcast rescue information. 

  • The document, created on Google Docs-like Tencent Docs, was visited 2.5 million times and edited more than 20,000 times within a day of being created. 
  • A Tencent spokesperson told TechNode that the company expanded the platform’s limits on Wednesday morning to allow more than 200 people to edit the document simultaneously. 

Context: Chinese tech majors are hoping to improve their company images. Major tech firms have faced much social criticism for their extremely long working hours and weekend work schedule. Regulators also began late last year to crack down on major tech firms over anti-competition business practices and data security concerns.

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Qin is the managing editor at TechNode. Previously, she was a reporter at the South China Morning Post's Inkstone. Before that, she worked in the United States for five years. She was a senior video producer...