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Giovanni Andornino

University of Turin (EURICS Fellow)
Red philanthropy: strategies of legitimisation and networked corporatism in China's nonprofit ecosystem
15 January 2020 -
15 April 2020,
05 February 2022 -
24 February 2022
Political science

Giovanni B. Andornino is a tenured Assistant Professor of International Relations of East Asia in the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society of the University of Turin. His research interests cover China’s domestic politics and foreign policy, China’s relations with Italy and the wider Euro-Mediterranean region, and the development of the philanthropic sector in China. Giovanni is Vice President of the Torino World Affairs Institute, Editor of the OrizzonteCina journal and Director of the ChinaMed Business Program at Peking University (Beijing, P.R.China). He has been serving as Founding General Secretary of the China-Italy Philanthropy Forum since 2019.

In January 2020, he joins the EURICS Chinese Studies Program in collaboration with the RFIEA

Research topics

Domestic politics and foreign policy of China; China’s relations with the Euro-Mediterranean region; philanthropy in China

Red philanthropy: strategies of legitimisation and networked corporatism in China's nonprofit ecosystem

The development of a strong domestic philanthropic sector is one of the most important, though as yet little studied, aspects of China's changing socio-political topography. Having increased six-fold in ten years to over 20 billion euros, charitable giving in the Chinese context has become an entrenched corporate practice as well as a popular course of action for the wealthy. The “common prosperity” agenda recently unveiled by China’s leadership fundamentally elevates philanthropy into the core policy agenda to be pursued in Xi Jinping’s “new era”. 

Giovanni’s research focuses on the relationship between private, non-corporate Chinese philanthropists and the Party-State. While the notion of charity is rooted in the ethical premises of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, the Chinese charitable tradition stagnated under Mao's reign, and it is only recently that an age-old practice of philanthropy has emerged as a kind of giving that would lead to a more sustainable improvement in public life. What are the reasons behind large-scale individual philanthropy in China?

The working hypothesis underlying this project is that entrepreneurs and wealthy families in China pursue a similar legitimization strategy on three distinct but interrelated levels. First, in the political realm, they choose to become decentralized agents of China's modernization. Second, at the societal level, they target local needs in an attempt to legitimize their growing informal power. Finally, a cultural dimension comes into play as Chinese philanthropists are influenced by a consolidated global trend that sees the very rich committing ample resources to join the exclusive ranks of a "cosmopolitan ethical elite".

Key publications

Andornino, Giovanni B. (ed), Cina. Prospettive di un paese in trasformazione, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2021.

Andornino, Giovanni B., “Economic-Security Nexus in the AIIB: China’s Quest for Security Through Eurasian Connectivity”, Global Policy, 2019, 10 (4): 604-613.

Contemporary period (1789-…)
Eastern Asia