China firms act on Xi's 'common prosperity' calls

Chinese companies are responding to calls from President Xi Jinping to contribute more to efforts to correct wealth inequality in the country.

IT giant Tencent Holdings and e-commerce giant Pinduoduo are among the firms acting on the calls Xi and other leaders made at a meeting earlier this month.

The leaders pledged to promote common prosperity. They stressed the need to adjust excessive incomes and called on high-income earners and businesses to contribute more to society.

Tencent announced a plan to invest 50 billion yuan, or more than 7.7 billion dollars, to help promote the common prosperity initiative.

Pinduoduo pledged an investment of more than 1.5 billion dollars to address critical needs in the agriculture sector and rural areas.

The moves are seen as an attempt by the companies to evade mounting pressure from the Chinese government, which since last year has been strengthening its crackdown on IT companies.

Experts worry that the crackdown could deprive private-sector companies of their management freedom and impede economic development.

It also remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership will be able to take on the vested interests of state-owned enterprises and high-ranking Communist Party officials.