China’s Alibaba to invest billions by 2025 for ‘common prosperity’

Move comes on back of Beijing encouraging firms to share wealth as part of a drive to ease inequality

Last modified on Fri 3 Sep 2021 03.39 EDT

China’s Alibaba Group will invest 100bn yuan ($15.5bn) by 2025 in support of “common prosperity”, it said, becoming the latest corporate giant to pledge support for the initiative driven by the president, Xi Jinping.

Beijing has been encouraging companies to share wealth as part of the effort to ease inequality in the world’s second-largest economy. Other companies that have made similar announcements include Tencent Holdings, which also pledged 100bn yuan, and Geely Automobile.

The government-backed Zhejiang News website said Alibaba’s funds will go towards areas such as subsidies for small and medium-sized enterprises and improving insurance protection for gig economy workers such as couriers and ride-hailing drivers.

It will also set up a 20bn yuan “common prosperity development fund”, the newspaper said, with Alibaba confirming the report.

The e-commerce company and its tech rivals have been the target of a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on issues ranging from monopolistic behaviour to consumer rights. Alibaba was fined a record $2.75bn in April over monopoly violations.

The sector has also attracted criticism for the treatment of delivery workers and ride-hailing drivers, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.

The food delivery platform Ele.me and the supermarket operator Freshippo, both of which are owned by Alibaba, were among operators called to a meeting last month with government regulators on improving safety and labour rights for delivery workers.

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