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The Chinese mainland saw a decline in charitable donations from overseas in 2011, according to a report on philanthropy in China released by the country's top think tank on Thursday.
The mainland received about 9.24 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) from overseas donors in 2011, 3.65 billion yuan less than the amount in 2010, said the Blue Book of Philanthropy, released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The total value of money and goods given to the charity sector on the mainland declined by about 18 percent, from 103.2 billion yuan in 2010 to 84.5 billion in 2011, the report said, citing statistics from the China Charity and Donation Information Center, an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Out of the total amount received, the share of overseas donations dropped from about 12.5 percent to 10.9 percent, said the report.
Hong Kong turned out to be the dominant source of overseas donations in 2011, accounting for 36 percent of overseas donations flowing into the mainland.
"Among more than 100,000 foreign companies and transnational enterprises, fewer than 100 companies' donations exceeded 1 million yuan, and the number that donated more than 10 million yuan is very small," said the report.
Liu Youping, deputy director of the center, who participated in writing and editing the report, said the global economic downturn forced some foreign companies to cut their spending on charity.
Given the growing economic power of China, some foreign enterprises adjusted their philanthropic strategy in order to help poorer countries, he said.
On the other hand, helping China to help the world is a possible alternative for many international donors or charity organizations.
"China has a lot of important skills, technology and financial resources for global development, so we don't see it as just helping China to help China, we see the potential that China has to offer," said an insider in an international charity foundation that focuses on health issues, including HIV/AIDS, who declined to be named.
The foundation has shifted its strategy to cooperating with its Chinese partners to develop cheap medicines that meet international standards for export. That way, more poor people around the world can afford them, he said.
Incomplete statistics show that apart from official aid, overseas donations from the Chinese mainland reached 561 million yuan last year, a slender rise of 2 percent on 2010, the report pointed out.
It added that Chinese companies donated about 408 million yuan abroad, comprising nearly 73 percent of China's total overseas donations.
Yang Tuan, a researcher specializing in social policy with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and co-editor of the report, stressed that those figures did not include China's donations to Japan's earthquake and tsunami survivors in 2011.
China donated about 900 million yuan to disaster-hit areas in Japan after the disaster in March 2011, Yang said, without citing the source of the statistics.
She said that by increasing its donations overseas, China showed it was assuming more global responsibility.
The report was released in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, as part of a three-day China Charity Fair that kicked off on Thursday.
About 260 NGOs, 140 companies and 100 charitable foundations gathered in Shenzhen to exchange views and seek opportunities for cooperation.
Philanthropy is at a burgeoning stage in China, with many challenges, said Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs, who delivered the keynote speech at the opening ceremony.
The government will continue perfecting laws and regulations on charity to enable charity organizations to fully participate in the development of education, science and other social issues.