Under fire boss makes generosity award list

BEIJING – A list of nominees for a nation charity award has raised eyebrows for including a businessman battling accusations of donation fraud and a mining company that poisoned thousands of fish.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs published the names of 20 candidates for the title of 2011 Philanthropic Model for public consultation on Monday. However, the fact Chen Guangbiao was among them may prove controversial, coming just months after the 42-year-old was attacked for being a publicity seeker and allegedly lying about donations.

Many people will also be surprised to see Zijin Mining Group feature on the list, especially as it caused severe environmental pollution in Fujian province.

Entrepreneur Chen claims that, by the end of 2010, he had given more than 1.4 billion yuan ($216.6 million) to charitable causes, including handing out 100-yuan notes among survivors of an earthquake in Yunnan province in March.

Yet, the Beijing-based China Business Journal recently published an investigative report that said his donations were “questionable” and even accused him of fabricating the amounts he gave away.

Chen, president of Jiangsu Huangpu Recycling Resources, denied the claims.

“The government should think twice about whether to give this honor to such a controversial person,” said Deng Guosheng, a professor at Tsinghua University who specializes in charity and NGO development. “Chen neither represents an advanced way of carrying out charity work nor does he enhance the credibility of China’s philanthropic cause.”

Chen did not respond to any of the phone calls by China Daily on Tuesday.

Zijin Mining Group has been nominated for a charity project it runs to provide subsidies for the elderly and orphans in Fujian’s Shanghang county. However, last July, a toxic spill from its copper mine heavily polluted a river running through the county and killed thousands of fish.

“I can’t understand why this kind of ethical redemption should be awarded,” said Xu Yongguang, secretary-general of the Narada Foundation, a private charity focusing on public welfare projects.

“The nomination (of Zijin) sends out very bad signals that hypocrisy can win official recognition,” he said, adding that the company’s charity work is purely an effort to save its ruined image by providing compensation to the people their pollution affected.

Liu Youping, deputy director of the China Charity and Donation Information Center and a member of the award’s judging committee, said nominations are based on projects, not their financial sponsors.

The operation and effectiveness of the projects are the most important factors, he said.

Source: China Daily

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