Celebrity Philanthropy in Mainland China

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Asian Studies Review, 2015, 39 (4), pp. 571 - 588
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Asian Studies Association of Australia. Celebrity philanthropy in mainland China is a recent phenomenon that has attracted both media publicity and public controversy. Despite its visibility, few data exist regarding how widespread the phenomenon is, and whether it has been growing over time. This paper addresses this gap, using a sample of entertainment and sports celebrities obtained from publicly available sources to answer three key questions. What proportion of celebrities in mainland China engage in philanthropic activities? When did they become involved in philanthropic activities? With what kinds of philanthropic causes and organisations are they connected, and in what capacity? The paper reveals that, in a very short period of time, mainland China’s top celebrities have become just as involved with philanthropic causes as their North American counterparts. The rapid rise of celebrity philanthropy has been correlated with a series of natural disasters and the explicit encouragement of government authorities, offsetting the absence of a tradition of private charitable activities in the People’s Republic of China since its founding.
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