Red Cross still in the woods

Updated: 2015-09-21 07:41

(China Daily)

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Red Cross still in the woods

Video footage shows Guo Meimei receiving an interview after she was arrested for gambling online. [Photo/CFP]

Despite repeatedly claiming to not have any ties with the Guo Meimei scandal and an official confirmation last year, the Red Cross Society of China is yet to free itself of its side effects.

According to a recent China Charity Information Center report, the Red Cross received 2.643 billion yuan ($415.48 million) in donations in 2014, a decline of 17.4 percent or 559 million yuan from the previous year. Worse, the amount the Red Cross received accounted for only 2.5 percent of the 104.226 billion yuan China's charity organizations received from home and abroad.

When Guo, a young woman, ostentatiously flaunted her lavish lifestyle on the Internet while claiming to be a commercial manager of the Red Cross Society in 2011, she was met with a public outcry, which was followed by the "exposure" of a series of problems with the society, including irregular use of funds and lack of transparency. The scandal also seriously damaged the Red Cross's credibility, and its efforts to prove that Guo had nothing to do with it have had little effect on the public.

Beijing police confirmed in the summer of 2014 that Guo had no ties with the Red Cross Society of China after she was detained on the charge of gambling during the Football World Cup, but even that did not dispel public doubts.

The Red Cross may be truly innocent in the Guo scandal, but it cannot absolve itself of some other irregularities. In his recent report to the top legislature, Liu Jiayi, auditor general of the National Audit Office, has pointed out numerous problems in the budgetary implementation of the society and its other fiscal revenues and expenditures. And in July, a top official in the Sichuan province branch of the society was sentenced to 20 years for bribery and embezzlement.

To regain public trust, the society has to make its operations transparent and subject its funds to public supervision.