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Criticism of Red Cross continues

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-02 20:50

BEIJING - An apology made by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) this week after it was found to have diverted donations earmarked for specific uses to other projects without notice has failed to stem a tide of criticism against the organization.

"How could you embezzle and redirect the donation from its stipulated purpose," Internet user "Lixiaole1" wrote in a post on Twitter-style website Sina Weibo, summing up netizens' feelings on the scandal-dogged RCSC.

The organization issued a statement on Tuesday, admitting that a sum of 84.72 million yuan (13.62 million U.S. dollars) donated by about 100 artists for reconstruction after the devastating Sichuan Province earthquake of 2008 was appropriated for another charity project.

The statement came after a Weibo post last month by one of the donors, alleging that their donation to the charity never arrived with the specified recipient, but had simply "disappeared."

The RCSC said the new project, a charity aiming to promote communities' infrastructure and capabilities in disaster prevention and control, was "generally in accordance with the donors' will," but also apologized for failure to maintain sound communication with the donors.

It published a list of the counties where the 242 community recipients of the funds are located. Each got 350,000 yuan on average, according to the RCSC.

However, the statement was still questioned by netizens for having little detailed information to explain how the money was spent.

"It is an investment over 80 million, but the list didn't even give one specific name of a community which has received the money or information about the contractors of relevant constructions," Weibo user "Zhouzeng" pointed out.

Many previous accusations about the RCSC were proved to be untrue, but the diversion of the donation is improper, according to Wang Yong, a member of the RCSC social supervision committee, in an article published on the website of the Global Times, huanqiu.com.

Founded in December last year, the 16-member supervision committee is claimed to be an independent board, with no administrative and financial link with the RCSC, designed to supervise the charity.

The diversion of the donation is also against the RCSC's own management rules, which provide that donors' intentions should be respected and the charity is only entrusted with handing out the donations rather than authorized to dispose of the money at its own discretion, Wang said.

"If a donation with a specified purpose can still be diverted, other donations to the charity may well be put at the mercy of the organization's wanton use," Wang said, citing Internet users' concerns.

Public mistrust of the RCSC, China's largest charity, keeps mounting after a 2011 scandal in which a young woman calling herself Guo Meimei used social media to claim she was a manager of an organization under the RCSC and openly flaunted wealth and extravagance.

To restore its reputation, Wang advised the RCSC to promote transparency and social supervision, as well as to improve its management talent pool, in order to regain credit from the public.

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