The Yifu Buildings nationwide are named after the Hong Kong media tycoon and philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw, or Shao Yifu, who died at the age of 107 on Tuesday.
Sir Run Run donated more than HK$ 10 billion ($1.29 billion) to support education and healthcare on the Chinese mainland. According to Beijing News, he began his philanthropic journey when the mainland started to reform and open-up. This decision, according a friend, was because he wanted to make a “contribution to the country’s development”.
To many Chinese he was the “most familiar stranger”, as they knew him through the Yifu Buildings throughout the country. Netizens started a campaign to post photos of the school buildings — including libraries, science halls and stadiums — and hospitals donated by him. Millions of them lit candles online and said “R.I.P.” to show their respect. Baidu map shows that there are roughly 30,000 Yifu Buildings on the mainland, covering nearly every province.
After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Sir Run Run donated HK$ 100 million ($13 million) for disaster relief. In 2002, he endowed the annual Shaw Prize of $1 million to honor individuals, regardless of race, nationality, gender and religious belief, who have recently achieved a significant breakthrough in astronomy, mathematics, and life and medical science.
He made his fortune as one of the most influential figures in the Asian entertainment industry. He founded the Shaw Brothers Studio, one of the largest film production companies in the world, and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), the dominant television company in Hong Kong.
He was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 1977 and received the Grand Bauhinia Medal from the Hong Kong government in 1998.
Netizens say although he stopped “running” on Tuesday, his mission is a never dying one.