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CHINA'S TYCOONS SHUN GATES-BUFFETT DINNER INVITATION

By NBF News

Warren Buffett
In the world of business, who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to dine with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett? Chinese tycoons, apparently.

State media has been abuzz over the story of a number of top Chinese entrepreneurs declining to join the two American industry titans-turned-philanthropists for dinner in Beijing later this month, according to Cable Network News.

The alleged reason: Fear of being pressured to make huge donation commitments.

Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Buffett, who heads the Berkshire Hathaway investment firm, are two of the world's richest men and have devoted most of their personal fortune to charitable causes. They recently persuaded 40 United States billionaires to pledge giving at least half their wealth to charity.

The China office of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation remains tight-lipped about details of the Beijing event, telling CNN that Gates and Buffett will host 'a private gathering to discuss philanthropy development' with their Chinese counterparts on Sept. 29.

Chen Guangbiao, a self-made multimillionaire and one of the few confirmed guests of the dinner, has published an open letter to the U.S. power duo to heed their call by donating his entire fortune, an estimated $735 million, to charity upon his death.

'I don't want to become a slave to my wealth,' Chen told CNN. 'Every dollar I made was with the help of others -so I want to give it back to society and make my life more meaningful and valuable.'

China boasted 477,000 millionaires (in U.S. dollars) at the end of 2009, a 31-percent increase from the previous year and trailing only the United States, Japan and Germany, according to a report jointly released last June by consulting firm Capgemini and investment bank Merrill Lynch.

Wealthy Chinese seem unwilling to open their purse strings for charitable causes, however.