'Backbone' award organizer faces punishment

Updated: 2011-08-12 22:10


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BEIJING - A Chinese organization that has been slashed for its controversial award of national "backbones" over the past month will face punishment after it was found operating illegally and trying to profit from the event, said authorities.

The China Federation of Patriotic Projects (CFPP) violated regulations by organizing the "Backbones of the Republic" selection as it has been under overhaul by authorities since July 19, 2010 and should have suspended all external project operations, said the civil affairs and cultural ministries on Thursday and Friday.

According to earlier media reports, each candidate in the selection was required to pay a service fee of 9,800 yuan ($1,531) to contest for the title of the "Backbone."

The group has also allegedly been illegally organizing training sessions at its "National Junior Reporters Training Center (NJRTC)," which was shut down by authorities in 2007, according to the ministries.

The federation will be held accountable for organizing the illegal award event and the punishment will be announced soon, said the ministries.

The organization did not make itself known to the public until its selection of the "backbones" triggered sneer and attack in the online community after noted actress Ni Ping was rumored to be one of the title winners.

While critics complained that Ni does not deserve the title, some people also began to suspect the organizer's authority and validity.

The Chinese Red Cross Foundation was also reported to have a role in the CFPP project on junior reporters training.

During a phone interview with Xinhua, a senior official with the foundation admitted to its cooperation with the program to establish a special fund for such training sessions in May.

The official said the foundation wasn't aware whether the NJRTC was a legal organization, adding it has already suspended all activities regarding cooperation with the program.