DECADES OF RAPID economic growth have spurred the development of philanthropy in China. Recognising this, since 2005 the Ministry of Civil Affairs has held a prestigious annual charity award to celebrate the philanthropic achievements of entrepreneurs, government officials, and others working in the sector. Some philanthropists are motivated by tax advantages or to transfer corporate funds as a business strategy; some do it to strengthen their reputation; and some even out of altruism. It is such a prominent and dynamic trend that the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation collaborated with the Institute for Philanthropy at Tsinghua University to examine Chinese philanthropy’s social, political, and legal implications, producing the report Values and Vision: Perspectives on Philanthropy in 21st Century China in May 2017.
Forum: You Can’t Take it With You
AT THE BEGINNING OF 2017, therapists across China excitedly welcomed the issuing of a policy directive, ‘Guideline on Improving Psychological Health Services’ 关于加强心理健康服务的指导意见. The number of state council ministries and commissions that co-signed it — twenty-two in total — was encouraging news to members of a young but vibrant profession. Speculation that President Xi Jinping supported the expansion of the practices of psychotherapy and psychology had begun with his 2014 visit to the College of Psychology at Beijing Normal University, where the Criticising Psychology campaign 批判心理学 occurred in 1958. The document attested not only to official support, but also rosy prospects for a once-misunderstood profession. In July 2017, when the Division of Clinical and Counselling Psychology and the Registry System under the Chinese Psychological Society held their annual meeting, they themed it ‘Greeting the Springtime of Psychological Counselling and Psychotherapy’ 迎接心理咨询与治疗的春天.
IN JUNE 2017, a Foshan 佛山 court handed Chen Hongping 陈弘平, former mayor of Jieyang 揭阳, a coastal city in northern Guangdong province, a suspended death sentence for accepting bribes of RMB125 million during his time in office between 2004 and 2011.3 This in itself would hardly be cause for comment in the context of Xi Jinping’s widespread anti-corruption campaign. However, the charges included embezzling RMB3.5 million to build himself an extravagant mausoleum using traditional feng shui principles.4 Publicly known as the Jieyang Tower, the construction included a curved colonnade of nine carved ten-metre stone columns enclosing a megalith from the spiritually significant Mount Tai in Shandong, 1,700 kilometres away. The construction also included a ten-metre-high ritual tripod in the square in front of the edifice.