Party mouthpiece People’s Daily drew heat from internet users on Tuesday for publishing a front page editorial defending the scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China and dismissing online public opinion as not reflecting “actual public opinion”.
“While the China Red Cross Society continues to face a credibility crisis, it still has a rather strong degree of trust … facts also show there is still a massive gap between online public opinion and actual public opinion,” the editorial said.
The author justified the claims by citing statistics from the China Foundation Centre which showed the RCSC still managed to draw in 53 per cent of the 10 billion yuan (HK$12.6 billion) in donations towards relief efforts for the Yaan earthquake.
By contrast, the RCSC received roughly 90 per cent of the 13.8 billion yuan donated in after the earthquake struck neighbouring Wenchuan in 2008, according to a separate Beijing News report. The remainder of the donations was split among 115 other charity groups.
The story, which was shared on the RCSC’s Sina Weibo account was forwarded more than 700 times, but the 2,500 comments left by netizens were overwhelmingly negative. “The [RCSC] is a nest of snakes and rats,” one user commented.
“Well, the People’s Daily does not represent the people’s opinions either,” another said.
The RCSC is still recovering from a spate of scandals over the last few years. The most credibility-damaging scandal occured when a young woman named Guo Meimei posted photos of herself posing with luxury cars and carrying designer handbags - falsely claimed to have been affiliated with the "Red Cross Chamber of Commerce".