Close watch on aid from overseas Chinese

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing officials in charge of overseas-Chinese affairs have pledged to keep a closer eye on donations made by Chinese living abroad, amid an outcry over abuses and corruption in the Sichuan relief efforts.

Ma Rupei , deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, said Chinese people living abroad had contributed relief supplies and cash worth 1.13 billion yuan (HK$1.27 billion), of which 219 million yuan had been sent directly to his office.

Mr Ma said his office would be open and transparent, and closely supervise use of the donations 'to protect the legal rights of the donors and beneficiaries in disaster-hit areas'.

He expressed his appreciation to donors yesterday and vowed to deliver contributions to earthquake victims swiftly.

Media reports at home and abroad have suggested officials are misusing donations and that corruption is involved in the relief efforts after the magnitude-8 quake struck.

Local and foreign donations have surpassed 40 billion yuan as campaigns continue around the world.

Calls have grown for more transparency about how relief funds and materials are used.

Last week, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's watchdog, and four ministries issued a joint circular calling for better supervision and management of funds and supplies for relief work.

Mr Ma pledged to abide strictly by the rules set by the anti-corruption watchdog and the State Council on the management of overseas donations, including those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Cheng Tiesheng , director general of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office's home affairs department, said it had set up four mechanisms for managing overseas- Chinese donations, covering co-ordination, supervision, incentives and feedback.

Mr Cheng said the four-mechanism management system had been tested in Guangdong, a hot spot of overseas-Chinese contributions, for two years.

It had proved to be effective and was welcomed by donors from Hong Kong, Macau and foreign countries, he said.

'Supervision has been penetrating all processes in the management of the use of overseas-Chinese donations, from the selection of a donated project, the establishment of the project, the examination and approval of the project, and the use of funds to the final test and acceptance,' Mr Cheng said.

Mr Ma said his office planned to use donations from overseas Chinese to build 100 schools and 100 hospitals in earthquake-hit zones in the next three to five years. Construction on about 30 of them would start soon.

The office would also encourage overseas Chinese to invest in rebuilding local economies.

Helping hand

Chinese living abroad have given relief supplies and cash worth, in yuan: 1.13b