Thu 19 Jun 2014
Chinese billionaire philanthropist Chen Guangbiao selling canned air in 2013
Shanghai: A Chinese billionaire has announced plans to invite 1000 impoverished Americans for a meal in Central Park in an attempt to show fellow tycoons that there is more to life than “luxury goods, gambling and prostitution”.
Chen Guangbiao, a recycling magnate from the eastern province of Jiangsu, issued the invitation to his “charity luncheon for 1000 poor and destitute Americans” through two prominent advertisements placed in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal this week. Guests will be given $US300 to spend on “occupational training” as well as lunch at the Loeb Boathouse restaurant in Manhattan’s Central Park.
The restaurant, which featured in the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, describes itself as “the ultimate urban oasis” and “a haven for romantics and nature lovers”.
Mr Chen said he hoped that the lunch, which he expected to cost about $US1million, would boost relations between China and the United States and change perceptions of wealthy Chinese.
“I want to spread the message in the US that there are good philanthropists in China and not all are crazy spenders on luxury goods,” he told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
The tycoon, whose past stunts include selling canned air to raise awareness of pollution and smashing a Mercedes Benz to draw attention to global warming, also hoped to serve as a role model for Chinese billionaires.
He said: “There are many wealthy Chinese billionaires but most of them gained their wealth from market speculation and colluding with government officials while destroying the environment.
“I can’t bear the sight of it, because all they do is splurge on luxury goods, gambling and prostitution and very few of them sincerely live up their social responsibility.”
It was not immediately clear whether Mr Chen’s guests would be offered a set menu at the Central Park feast or be allowed to choose from the restaurant’s a la carte lunch menu, which features dishes such as Lemon-Oregano Crusted Salmon and Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi with Tobiko Caviar and Jalapeno Wasabi Vinaigrette.
In a 2010 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Chen said he hoped to build a “charity army” of wealthy Chinese business people who would pump large chunks of their profits back into society.