Chinese tycoon to give New York's homeless a free lunch

Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese tycoon who says he's out to "fill the world" with love wants to start by filling the bellies of New York's homeless.

Businessman Chen Guangbiao, known both for his wacky publicity stunts and his charity work, plans to treat 250 homeless people to lunch next week at The Boathouse restaurant in New York's Central Park, The New York Post reports. Chen plans to do this three more times for 250 guests at a time, for a total of 1,000.

During the three-course meal, he also plans to serenade the guests with "We are the World," sung in English. He placed large ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal announcing the June 25 lunch.

"I want to spread the message in the U.S. that there are good philanthropists in China and not all are crazy spenders on luxury goods," he told The South China Morning Post.

The meal will begin with an appetizer of sesame-seed-encrusted tuna, The Post reports. The main entree will be a beef filet and the dessert will be seasonal berries with creme fraiche.

After the meal, Chen is also expected to give them as much as $300 worth of gifts, such as new clothes or funding for temporary housing.

Chen said he's trying to teach a lesson to many Chinese billionaires who got rich from market speculation and colluding with government officials. They love to gamble and splurge on luxury items, Chen told The Morning Post. "Very few of them sincerely live up their social responsibility," he said. "I'm trying to stimulate them to do good."

So why the over-the-top display in New York instead of China? Chen said he thought it would improve relations between the countries. "U.S. philanthropists donated to China's disasters; why can't we help the poor in the U.S.?" he told The Morning Post.

Some people living in China aren't happy with the display.

"Chen Guangbiao, clown, greatest insult to the Chinese people," wrote Jeremy Goldkorn, director of a Chinese media research firm, on Twitter.

But other Twitter users were impressed. "This is awesome!" wrote one. "I see nothing 'eccentric' about it, though." Others pointed out that the tables seemed to be turned, now that a wealthy Chinese man is offering food and cash to America's poor.

Chen made his fortune -- estimated at $740 million in 2012 -- by recycling waste and construction materials in China, CNN reports. He said last year that he wanted to buy The New York Times, and would sell off most of his assets in order to do so, Reuters reports.

  • Kim Peterson

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