Zou Zhenfu: male, born in Yangji Town, Jingshan County, Hubei Province, now act as the Honorary Chairman of Grass Love Countryside Environmental Protection Promotion Association
He majored in organic chemistry in the Department of Chemistry in Wuhan University between 1979 and 1986. He worked with the Institute of Chemistry the Chinese Academy of Sciences between 1986 and 1988 and specialized in thalassochemistry study. Since 1988, he founded Guangzhou Antas Chemistry Co., Ltd., Guangzhou Jointas Chemical Co., Ltd., Guangzhou Guangtai Lasor Science and Technology Co., Ltd. and now acts as chairman of the aforementioned companies. He was ever the delegate to the 12th and 13th People’s Congress of Guangzhou and now the delegate to the 14th People’s Congress of Guangzhou, member of the Standing Committee of the 5th Tianhe District CPPCC, Vice Chairman of the Association directly under Guangzhou Private Enterprise Association.
A western saying goes like this: the top principle of helping others is to maintain their dignity. There is also an old proverb in China that Keep performing good deeds, Do not ask how you will be rewarded. Just share with all of you.”
Countryside Birding Watching: some people hold that there are many people on short commons and the first thing to do good is to solve the problem of food and clothing. Bird watching is unnecessary. What do you think of that?
Zou Zhenfu: we need to survive and also need mental enjoyment. According to the hierarchy of needs theory, which was put forward by Abraham Harold Maslow, the first level of demand is the survival needs and the second level of demands is mental needs. From micro perspective, namely from the aspect of the key contradiction in current stage of our country, the problem of food and clothing has been gradually solved across the nation.
Today, many people are doing charity and efforts shall be also be made to enhance the spiritual temperament of the nation from spiritual aspect. I think bird watching is such kind of work. It could help to enhance the spiritual temperament of people from their childhood. We organized a summer camp last year and held a ceremony. Those pupils who attended the bird watching activity may have never been to the county but they were natural and graceful when asked to give a sentence each. We feel that they were different in temperament.
Then we actually need such a start from the enhancement of the spiritual temperament of the whole nation. Today, even in big cities, the cultivation of people’s nobility has yet to be started, let alone in the countryside. China was ever one of the Four Great Ancient Civilizations. The scholar temperament and nobility are not exclusive to our ancestors. The learned and refined character of Confucianists was also developed from their childhood. We did not do so because of the trouble of survival and poverty. Today, out economy is developing rapidly and most people are casting about for money. No one thinks about it but we should start to do so anyway.
Countryside bird Watching: since 1998, you set up Zou Zhenfu Scholarship Base in Yangji Town and have invested a lot of funds and energy in the building of bridges, roads and poverty relief and assistance in the locality. Could it be defined as “charity”? Is the Grass Love the beginning of your charity?
Zou Zhenfu: something like that. As regards the scholarship funds in Yangji Town, I am a litter regretted that I should have started earlier. In the first beginning, I wanted to earn some money and then established the fund in Yangji Town, which needed at least one million yuan. The scholarship would come from the annual interest income. But the company had to handle various problems for development and it was difficult to scrape together one or two million yuan. One day, I suddenly figured it out that it was unnecessary to scrape together one or two million yuan before doing that. As long as I have the interests of the fund, I would present them the scholarship. Then I did it immediately.
However, the building of bridges and roads and poverty relief and assistance is not charity, but kind of rebound and is what I ought to do in that the roads are all the roads in our village. I never take the fund as charity but my rebounding upon the society as I do to my parents. Whatever the rebound is, it would never be too early.
Countryside Bird Watching: on Jun. 12, 2011, Guangdong Jingshan Chamber of Commerce organized the visit to the Huaiji Leju Mine Industry. During the visit, you initiatively proposed to Zhan Congxu, founder of the Grass Love and philanthropist Xie Shixue to spread the grass love mode across Jingshan, which was the beginning of your participating in the countryside environmental protection of Grass Love. Taking your suggestion, Grass Love has been widely spread since the end of 2011 and has achieved great success. What was on your mind at that time?
Zou Zhenfu: I have done this for temporary and never have a systematic idea. In mid-2011, I began to think about the public service for environmental protection systematically. First, I was moved by what Zhan Congxu has done. In my opinion, it is not easy for one to hold on for 7 and 8 years. Zhan Congxu not only gives money but also spends a lot of his time each year to take the kids to Wuhan and Shenzhen. He believes that what the kids need is not money but going out to accumulate experience and increase knowledge, which would take a lot of time. Those who have made some achievements outside could not do this. They would rather spend more money than time, which is much the same as we rebound upon our parents. It is not simply giving them more money. What they need is to stay with you. Therefore, Zhan Congxu has a vanguard idea on the issue. He earnestly practices what he advocates and would pick up waste and protect the environment together with kids in the village. He has spent half of his time in these places. Most of us could not do like him.
Second, I think such a good thing shall influence as many people as possible. The activity has been launched in a town in Sanyang County for 7-8 years. The bird-watching activity is quite influential across the nation and it is natural to spread it across Jingshan. I just help to promote the activity.
Countryside Bird-watching: how did you acknowledge the environmental-protection philosophy of the Grass Love and persistently support its spread and promotion across the nation?
Zou Zhenfu: because grass loves not only advocates environmental protection, but how to rebound upon the nature. Since our mankind has the power of creation, we began to think, which is also the beginning of the destruction on nature. The biggest difference between mankind and wild animals lies in that wild animals only ask for what they need but our mankind always ask from nature the needs of several generations.
The philosophy of the grass love is to rebound upon nature, which could be done in many different ways, such as bird watching. First, we need a carrier. Where there are birds, there shall be environment, forests and green plants. So, the carrier we see is bird watching and the process to protect birds is a complete ecological system. If the water is polluted and forests be damaged, how could there be any bird? Birds are the symbol of a fine integrated environment.
The activities have been launched among pupils. When they begin watching birds, they would not allow their parents and grandparents to shoot birds and eat birds. They could also influence a large group of people around them. They would even influence a generation after ten or 20 years. When they grow up and you cook a bird for them, they would refuse to eat it just as we see in foreign countries. Then we achieve what we hope. Such an idea to rebound upon the nature could not be developed in one or two days but need persistent adherence.
Countryside Bird Watching: actually, when you participate in public service activities, you not only give money but also strengthen the formalization of public service organization of Grass Love, such as the open and transparent principle of the financial system of the organization and the subscription institutionalization of the council members, etc., which lays a solid foundation for the long-term development of Grass Love. Could you share with us your ideas?
Zou Zhenfu: one is public service and the other is charity. Both are underdeveloped in China not because we are not unaware of charity and public service. Actually, a lot of people are willing to donate money to do so. Government is the key. It only allows 4 organizations to do charity, which has blocked the development of charity. Now the country is more open-mined on the issue today.
Then it is our top concern whether a charity organization could be accepted by the public. We now do not have the qualification to raise donations among the public but we shall handle the key problems from the very beginning. One of the key problems is the transparency of financial affairs and the other key problem is the activity shall live up to regulations. With the two problems solved would the organization be accepted.
On the issue, I do agree with President Zhan. Though our activities are restricted within a small scope of areas, we shall pull together people accepting the philosophy to run the Grass Lover up to regulations. With more and more people joining the activity in the future, the public donation collection would be possible sooner or later.
Whatever his or purpose is, as long as he actually does the charity, it is a good thing. For those fishing for fame and credit, as long as he donates money, half a loaf is better than no bread. The top social responsibility of entrepreneur is to manage their own enterprises. As long as they perform their social responsibility, it does not matter whether they do charity or not?
Countryside Bird Watching: many enterprises and entrepreneurs are doing bogus charity, for they merely donate some money but never concern how and where the donated money is used, which only add another record to their donation. In your opinion, what should those who have made great success outside bring back to Jingshan?
Zou Zhenfu: charity is the inner demands of individuals and is done of one’s own accord. Some may not be willing to do charity but for material gains. Charity may be done for material gains from the very beginning and then they would do the charity without expecting any materials returns but 100% devotion. The highest state of charity is to maintain the dignity of the donation receivers. There is still a long way to go in China to reach the state.
For example, in the downtown of New York City live many poor people and most shops would close when it snows but the elementary schools are not allowed to close because most of the students are from poor families. They would have nothing to eat for lunch if they do not come to school. Some would suggest that the problem would be easily solved by allowing those who have nothing to east for lunch to come to school when it snows. No, if they come to school, they would feel that they are coming to the school to beg for food because they are poor and they would feel no dignity.
The lunch is provided in this way: when your family income per capita exceeds some limit, the lunch shall be paid. The lunch would be free while the income is below the limit. The lunch for the kids is exchanged with meal ticket. Their parents shall recharge the meal ticket each month and give the ticket back to the kids, who would take with them to the school the next day. Those from better-off family would have paid tickets, while those from poor families would use free tickets, but the tickets are the same and the kids would not be discriminated because of their poor family.
In the hope elementary schools in our country, the textbooks are printed in different colors because those making donations hope that their good deeds could be widely known for personal purpose. This is the most elementary charity practice and finally they shall pay attention to more details not to hurt the dignity of the receivers.
Countryside Bird Watching: another abstract question: do you feel that you are shouldering the obligation and pains of the time?
Zou Zhenfu: I have never thought about such a big question but just try my best to influence people around me.