Tencent Announces 50 Billion Yuan Investment in Sustainable Innovation

In a letter to employees on Monday, Tencent’s CEO Pony Ma announced that the company would invest 50 billion yuan ($7.67 billion) in areas including “basic science, education innovation, rural revitalization, carbon neutrality, food/energy/water provision,” along with “public emergencies, technology for senior citizens and public welfare.”

In what Tencent called a “ fourth strategic upgrade,” the tech giant restructured its Corporate Social Responsibility department, merging it with the existing Tencent Foundation through which the company has donated 4.3 billion yuan to charities as of the end of 2019, according to Tencent’s website. The new division, called the Sustainable Social Value Organization (SSV.org), will be spearheaded by the company’s vice president of media services and former editor-in-chief of Tencent News, Caitlyn Chen.

Tencent’s decision to address its philanthropic endeavors comes at a point in which the country’s top decision makers are tightening their grip on the country’s tech moguls. Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, for example, has been caught in the crossfire after he delicately criticized the country’s financial regulators at a Shanghai forum.

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Pony Ma, on the other hand, stressed in the letter that his company is willing to work in line with “China’s new development pattern” and is “committed to exploring and tackling” issues that are listed as priorities in the government’s strategic plans. By “promoting sustainable innovations for social value, alongside nurturing the consumer Internet and embracing the industrial Internet,” the company echoes the government’s initiative to focus on long-term social value rather than short-term economic benefits.

Ma proposed four ways in which the company could “upgrade” its social responsibility efforts, including “concept upgrade,” “model upgrade,” “organizational upgrade,” and “investment upgrade.” He highlighted the company’s generous rewards to employees fighting the pandemic, its proactive response to the carbon-neutral initiative before it was introduced by the National People’s Congress session this year, and unprecedented financial investment in SSV.org.

“We aspire to lay a solid foundation for sustainable innovations for social value, Ma wrote in the letter. “Tencent should continue to respond to the ever-changing needs of the public and of the era, so as to develop and prosper together with society as a whole.”