China’s Red Cross opens official microblog service amid public mistrust

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) opened its official microblog on Sina’s microblog service Weibo, a Chinese-language Twitter clone, Monday to better interact with netizens amid a mounting public trust crisis.

China's Red Cross opens official microblog service amid public mistrust

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the online microblog postings of the charity have been forwarded by more than 25,600 Sina microbloggers, and more than 61,800 followers had posted comments.

The postings spurred another wave of public debate after a young woman calling herself “Guo Meimei Baby” online posted photos on her microblog detailing her lavish lifestyle. The woman claimed to be the general manager of “Red Cross Commerce.”

Her posts provoked the ire of the country’s netizens, who speculated that Guo might have funded her lifestyle by embezzling money from the Red Cross Society.

Responding to questions posted on the charity’s microblog website Monday night, the charity’s secretary general Wang Rupeng said “the Guo Meimei incident has discredited the RCSC, but it, at the same time, make us realize the problems and challenges in our project operation and fundraising.”

The RCSC has reported the case to the police as Guo had allegedly fabricated both the name “Red Cross Commerce” and the title “general manager,” which had tarnished RCSC’s reputation, according to Wang.

The charity has also decided to invite auditing institutions to check revenues and expenditures for the China Business System, a group founded in 2000 by the China General Chamber of Commerce with the approval of the Red Cross Society.

The China Business System primarily engages in charity fundraising in China’s commercial sector, as well as organizing emergency relief efforts. Funds raised by the group are channeled directly to the Red Cross Society.

“We sincerely welcome public and news organizations to oversee our work. If loopholes appear, we will spare no effort to probe and find the truth,” Wang said in the microblog.

“However, we hope the public and news organizations to shun extremism and treat the Guo Meimei incident in a more rational way,” he said.

By opening the microblog service, the RCSC aims to enhance transparency in their work, deliver timely information, and conduct real-time communication with netizens, Wang said.

“Many organizations have registered their official microblogs, we have come late, but will strive forward gradually,” he said.

Followers voiced their anger on the charity’s microblog website, with the most frequent comments demanding “Pay back the money I have donated.”

Reports carried by People.com.cn said Tuesday that the Guo Meimei incident reflected people’s concern about a lack of transparency in the charity sector.

To enhance transparency, Wang said in the microblog that the RCSC will introduce a new online database to enable the public to access detailed donation information later this month.

Information on donations to areas devastated by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in Yushu in northwestern Qinghai Province last year will be the first to be included in the database, according to Wang.

This is not the first time that the Red Cross has come under fire.

In April, a photo of an invoice was posted online showing that a department of the Shanghai branch of the Red Cross Society of China spent 9,859 yuan (1,524 U.S. dollars) on a meal, sparking public outrage.

Xinhua

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