Doubts and questions about China-Africa Project Hope (中非希望工程), a charity run by a private Hong Kong-registered company and the China Youth Development Fund of the Chinese Communist Youth League, are mounting in China’s media today, and at the center of this latest charity-related storm is Lu Xingyu (卢星宇), 24, the executive chairman and secretary-general of the project and the daughter of Chinese billionaire Lu Junqing (卢俊卿). [You can find our recap yesterday here].
Unlike Guo Meimei (郭美美), the young woman who was at the center of the scandal rocking the China Red Cross Society back in June, Lu Xingyu — who has been given the nickname Lu Meimei (卢美美) by web users — has shown much more mettle. She has accepted a number of interviews with media to explain the charity and drum home her point that everything is above board.
Many serious questions remain, despite Lu’s reassurances. But right now we’d like to share an interview with Lu that appears in today’s edition of Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post:
[ABOVE: Lu Xingyu (left) is pictured at a forum of the Chinese Eminent Business Leaders Association.]
Oriental Morning Post: When you saw what web users were saying about you, what was your reaction?
Lu Xingyu: My first reaction was to turn red, seeing that I had turned into an overnight celebrity.
Oriental Morning Post: At the time, did you think of Guo Meimei [the woman at the center of the China Red Cross Society scandal in June]?
Lu Xingyu: I didn’t think of Guo Meimei, but I’ve already seen of course the way web users are pouring on the abuse.
Oriental Morning Post: You don’t worry about becoming another Guo Meimei?
Lu Xingyu: That’s not possible. I’m completely serious, unlike Guo Meimei.
Oriental Morning Post: Why did you later delete your microblog account?
Lu Xingyu: I am a second-generation rich. I enjoy great food. And there are lots of pictures of that kind on my microblog . . .
Oriental Morning Post: You were afraid others would see you as “flaunting your wealth”?
Lu Xingyu: I decided to delete [my account] because others didn’t want to see that side of me. Besides this, I had lots of photos of myself and my friends, and I didn’t want to impact them in any way. I wanted to protect others, and also to express my respect to those web users who like me.
Oriental Morning Post: Why are people attacking you?
Lu Xingyu: There are a number of reasons. The first is the Guo Meimei incident, and everyone has this attitude of despising the rich (仇富心态). I am a post-80 girl [born after 1980], and I am a second-generation rich girl [whose father is a billionaire]. The second reason is that Beijing closed 30 schools for migrant workers. The third reason is because there has been a lot of bad news lately about the China Red Cross Society and other charities, and people have a feeling of mistrust toward the charity sector.
Oriental Morning Post: And right now the public doesn’t trust you.
Lu Xingyu: That’s right. But our charity work is real charity work, 101 percent charity. Actually, we are anti-corrupt.
Oriental Morning Post: Anti-corrupt?
Lu Xingyu: That’s right. I was the first to give one million yuan [to the charity], all my own pocket money, my allowance money. All of the money in our company goes to charity work, not a cent is reimbursed [or expensed] (报销).
Oriental Morning Post: Who put up the money for you to go on a mission to Africa?
Lu Xingyu: My dad. And I have some money too.
Oriental Morning Post: Can you be sure that your father has never expensed [ie, taken money earmarked for charity]?
Lu Xingyu: No, I’m sure of that.
Oriental Morning Post: At the age of 24 you are already the executive chairman of China-Africa Project Hope. Is this a reflection of your own abilities or has you father helped you along?
Lu Xingyu: This is a platform provided by my father, but you can’t deny my ability. The collection of donations and dealings with leaders in foreign countries is all handled by me. I have the ability to serve as executive chairman.
Oriental Morning Post: Do you have such a huge social network yourself?
Lu Xingyu: Of course I have used many of my father’s resources, I don’t deny that.
Oriental Morning Post: Was it your father’s idea for you to go into charity, or was that something you wanted? Lu Xingyu: It was all me. I really admire my father. He has always taught me to be responsible.
Oriental Morning Post: If it weren’t for your father, if you weren’t a second-generation rich, would you still do charity work?
Lu Xingyu: But the fact is that this is my father, and I have the capacity to go and do charity work.
Oriental Morning Post: Why do you do charity work?
Lu Xingyu: I think it’s my responsibility. Right now there are so many misunderstandings about second-generation rich. I want to take this cap, ‘second-generation rich’, and transform it into the hat ‘second-generation benevolent’ (仁二代).
Oriental Morning Post: So getting to China-Africa Project Hope, what is your mode of operation?
Lu Xingyu: We rely on private donations, only collecting donations from the World Eminent Chinese Business Association (WECBA). It’s not like they’re spitting out online, us taking money from here and there. Entrepreneurs donate of their own free will, so we are justified, open and above board. We have nothing at all to hide.
Oriental Morning Post: With the outside world casting so much doubt on you, do you regret doing charity work?
Lu Xingyu: I don’t regret it. Doing charity is about one’s conscience.
Oriental Morning Post: Is that enough, relying on conscience?
Lu Xingyu: I have a clear conscience. This is about responsibility.