China's ex-premier Zhu Rongji becomes one of nation's top givers after donating $5m in 2013

Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, respected as an economic reformer and fighter against corruption, gave away nearly US$4 million (S$5 million) last year, becoming one of the country's top 100 philanthropists, a survey showed. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, respected as an economic reformer and fighter against corruption, gave away nearly US$4 million (S$5 million) last year, becoming one of the country's top 100 philanthropists, a survey showed. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, respected as an economic reformer and fighter against corruption, gave away nearly US$4 million (S$5 million) last year, becoming one of the country's top 100 philanthropists, a survey showed.

Mr Zhu gave away a total of 23.98 million yuan (S$5 million) - earned from royalties on some of his books - to help poor students and teachers and renovate school facilities, according to wealth publisher Hurun's Philanthropy List 2014.

He ranked 60th on the list, released on Tuesday, after technology billionaires, property tycoons and investment gurus.

Mr Zhu was China's premier from 1998 to 2003. He was known for his tough style with other officials but credited with pushing deep economic reforms. He helped orchestrate China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and hastened the shift away from state economic planning.

Many Chinese leaders have published books after retirement and donations of royalties are often reported by state media, though usually of much smaller value.

The books that contributed to Mr Zhu's donation were collections of transcripts of his speeches and comments since the late 1980s, when he was mayor of Shanghai.

Mr Jack Ma, China's richest man and founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, was ranked as the most generous person in the country, after he donated a 1.4 per cent stake in the firm - worth US$3.5 billion according to Tuesday's share price - to set up an environment, health care and education charity, said a statement accompanying the list.

Mr Ma's personal wealth ballooned to US$19.5 billion after Alibaba's record breaking initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September, according to Forbes magazine.