In 2011, Guo Meimei scandalized the name of the Red Cross Society of China at a time when many were already suspicious about the humanitarian NGO’s management of funds. After the devastating 6.6Mw earthquake hit Sichuan province last month, lingering distrust in and anger towards the Red Cross came to light. When a discrepancy between the Red Cross’ recent donation figures and those on file at the Ministry of Civil Affairs was revealed by Southern Metropolis Daily last week, public outrage towards the Red Cross flared once again. The Global Times reports:
The public have questioned contradictory figures released for Lushan earthquake donations by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The ministry released figures for the amount of donations which were lower than those of the Red Cross.
[…]The ministry announced Friday that as of May 10, the RCSC reported cash and material donations of 134.51 million yuan ($21.9 million), and the Red Cross Foundation, a separate entity administered by RCSC had received 24.3 million yuan. These figures contradicted the one posted on the RCSC’s Sina Weibo account on May 10, which said 159.27 million yuan had been collected.
The RCSC Saturday clarified the discrepancy by saying that the ministry’s release did not include the donations received by the foundation, while the RCSC’s figures did.
The South China Morning Post reports that, despite a Ministry of Civil Affairs statement explaining the inconsistency, this may have further damaged the already tarnished public image of the Red Cross Society of China:
But the damage may already be done. “You can believe what they say or not, I certainly don’t,” a commenter posted online. “You can donate or not, I certainly won’t.”
The questions raised had hit a nerve as the charity is still reeling from a damaged reputation after the Guo Meimei scandal in 2011, in which a young woman who claimed to work for the Red Cross flaunted her extraordinary wealth.
Ever since, the Chinese Red Cross has struggled to collect donations. The ministry’s data shows that other charities have managed to collect several times as much as the country’s flagship charity.
Also see one Chinese web-user’s Red Cross-inspired poem, translated by CDT.