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  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:44am
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CHARITY

China Red Cross admits it redirected huge donation

Diversion of artists' 85m yuan gift again raises doubts about troubled organisation's integrity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 5:46am

The scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China has admitted that more than 80 million yuan donated (HK$100 million) by more than 100 Chinese artists to build an art school and fund other reconstruction work after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake was spent on other projects.

But the mainland's largest charitable organisation, which is closely associated with the government, denied it had "misappropriated funds", insisting the donations "were not used as intended but largely in line with donors' wishes".

They think they have the right to direct funding as long as it's not been misused

A number of artists have asked questions about the whereabouts of the 84.7 million yuan since Saturday. The money was raised at a charity auction of paintings five years ago and was supposed to be spent on projects in Qingchengshan, an important early site of Taoism that was extensively damaged in the quake. Five million yuan was earmarked for an art school in the city, but it was not built and the society had never explained where the money went.

The artists' queries have once again raised questions over the society's integrity and prompted the organisation to release an online statement on Tuesday saying the donation had been redirected to building " Bo Ai [Universal Love] Family" projects in about 240 communities including 148 in Sichuan and the remainder in Shanxi , Gansu , Ningxia and Chongqing . The projects are meant to foster community development "in terms of disaster prevention, health and livelihood improvement and promoting humanitarianism".

It said the decision was based on the "post-disaster construction trend and the actual needs of quake-zone residents".

Each project received an average of 350,000 yuan to spend on construction and "livelihood development" programmes, while the rest was spent on other services, organisational development and campaign expenses.

The society apologised for its "inadequate communication and service to donors".

It said: "[We] apologise to our donors and shall improve our work in future."

The lack of transparency and accountability in Sichuan reconstruction projects has triggered a flood of mainland criticism, and sparked debate in Hong Kong about whether the city should donate to the Sichuan provincial government to aid survivors of last month's smaller quake.

Tsinghua University professor Jia Xijin , an NGO studies specialist, said the statement was insufficient because it showed the organisation had betrayed donors' wishes by redirecting donations, which could be labelled "misappropriation".

"The Red Cross Society of China must strictly respect and honour the wishes of donors, especially when it involves such a large donation for a clearly designated purpose," Jia said.

"They think they have the right to direct funding as long as it's not been misused corruptly, but this is a gross misunderstanding of charitable donations."

Last week the Red Cross Society of China received 570 million yuan of the just over one billion yuan donated to help survivors of the April 20 quake centred on Lushan county, with the rest split among 115 other charity groups.

 

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shouken
Well it is true that the Red Cross needs to attend more closely to communications work with donors. But as long as the money is not used to enrich the charities' officers, it is already a huge step forward. I am also heartened to see that the Red Cross is willing to admit inadequacies in its work. Well done! As for idiots who oppose donation because of pretentious fears that the money will be embezzled by corrupt officials, perhaps the Sichuan government should issue a statement telling them that they can keep their money. The "people", alas, are often far more selfish than the officials they so self-righteously criticize. Forgive me for not being an NGO worshipper.
daily
A good reason for the HK'rs this time to justify why everyone was against the $100 million donation that Leung proposed........this article should be shoved into Leung's face the next time he brings up the issue of donating $100 million for the Sichuan incident...........man, he has no shame!
caractacus
The total lack of accountability, transparency and absence of any honest, independent audit mechanism is typical of China's institutions, which now include the highest levels of the Hong Kong Government.
caractacus
One has to wonder how much of the money was converted to cash and smuggled into HK to be invested in property.
Is there any institution or official in that country who isn't crooked?
johnyuan
It can’t be true. The donation will be recycled in returning back to Hong Kong. When invested in property, it is redistribution of people’s wealth to catch in the hands of few property developers. But don’t forget, it also supports the government with yearly big revenue surplus. Money well spent? Corrupt money is known to be recycled and redistributed through property purchase.
hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
the rest are split among 115 other charity groups .....????? why do I have the feeling that those other charity group are non existing ??? as a regular/monthly donor, I hope any donation that goes to the needy are not stuck into someone else pocket.
why not just fired them all and replace them ...preferably someone from newgalileo comment below....rotary club or soon ching ling foundation....maybe ????
johnyuan
So the Red Cross in China acted as a charity broker and not doing any actual fieldwork. As a broker he/she must be mostly drinking tea and reading newspaper all day long? So how much broker’s fee received from other charities besides compensation for ‘regular operating cost”? Clever but unconscionable. Fire and jailed them.
newgalileo
Not to be surprised why people ignore the Red Cross and other government entities. As member of the Beijing Rotary Club we have helped in the former Sichuan earthquake (with Shelterbox) and we do a lot of projects in the Beijing / Hebei area. Our rules are super strict: zero overhead expenses allowed on money raised and all projects are directly supervised and audited by club members. That is the only way to be sure money goes to where it is intended. We work also with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and they are also well disciplined.
chaz_hen
Discipline: there's a word the CCP loves to throw around...except when it comes to the behavior of its own members.
yty07
This country is well-known of fakes. But I couldn't believe even a charity society is also a fake. What a shame!
wwong888
timing of this is brilliant given the debate around donating $100m from HK... @whymak - where are you now? is this OK too? please come defend this commie trash.
HiggsSinglet
These confucius minded officials will never learn!!!
water
There is a lesson here. I hope officials learn it.
When the next catastrophe happens, no one will want to help China.
Poling Sun
Water,
1. They don't
2. They don't care

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