Chinese billionaire accused of getting govt subsidy

Ma Huateng, chairman of Hong Kong-listed Tencent which owns qq.com, one of China's largest news portals, is among the beneficiaries of official housing subsidies and has been granted USD 450 a month since July, state-run Global Times newspaper reported today.

Ma, 39, was recognised by the Shenzhen city government as a "local leading talent," a title that will fetch him USD 27,796 in subsidies over the next five years.

Since July, a total of 684 people with a range of backgrounds from academia to business have been entitled to government subsidies to purchase or rent apartments in
Shenzhen, according to the Shenzhen Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security.

"The housing-subsidy policy aims to attract talent to Shenzhen and make them stay. The city has lost its competitive edge to other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai," a bureau official surnamed Liu said.

Of the beneficiaries, those deemed to be "national leading talent," mostly academics, will receive a total of USD 224,280 in housing subsidies over the next five years.

Tencent said it respected the policy to attract high- end talent by the Shenzhen government but made no comments.

The public, especially the online community, has expressed shock at the news, arguing that rich businessmen such as Ma do not need government subsidies and the policy runs counter to the spirit of social equality, the paper said.

With soaring property prices and fierce competition over human resources globally, the government in Shenzhen was on the defensive, saying it promoted the package, including housing subsidies, benefits for spouses and children and research funds, in order to attract more talent to the region.

Song Ding, a sociologist at the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, told the newspaper that "buying" talent isn't the solution, and the government should boost public confidence by clarifying selection standards and details of where the funds go.

The latest Forbes Asia lists a record 128 Chinese billionaires. Shenzhen leads with 17 billionaires, followed by Beijing with 15 and Shanghai with ten.

Topping this year's list is Zong Qinghou, the chairman of beverage giant Wahaha, with an USD 8 billion net worth, compared with USD 4.8 billion last year. Zong knocked off last year's richest man Wang Chuanfu, who is now worth USD 4.25 billion and ranked No. 10 after losing over USD 1.5 billion.

Robin Li comes in second with USD 7.2 billion after seeing his net worth jump by more than USD four billion on the rapid growth of the world's biggest population of internet users. At No. 3 is Liang Wengen, worth USD 5.9 billion.

Former journalist and now property tycoon Wu Yajun is China's richest woman. She is at No. 8 with a net worth USD 4.7 billion which she shares with her family.

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