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Drive for donations gets fillip
By Zhao Huanxin and Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-14 06:12

From the president to residents, millions in China are donating money and material to the needy, especially as the winter chill tightens its grip across the country.

Reports yesterday that President Hu Jintao and his predecessor Jiang Zemin, along with other State leaders, opened their own wallets for natural-disaster victims and the poverty-stricken added a boost to acts of charity.

From the president to residents, millions in China are donating money and material to the needy, especially as the winter chill tightens its grip across the country.
Staff of the People's Bank of China carry clothes and quilts to a donation center in their headquarters in Beijing December 13, 2005. [Xinhua]

The president called on Communist Party members in the central government and affiliated institutions to show "warmth and care" to those living in dire straits, especially those affected by natural disasters, People's Daily reported yesterday.

The central leadership's gesture has sent a clear signal that the authorities will focus on caring for the vulnerable people and speed up building a harmonious society, Wen Tiejun, a senior rural researcher in Beijing, said yesterday.

"We can infer that in the years ahead, more substantive support will be lent to rural underdeveloped regions and to address social justice and employment," said the head of the Rural and Development Institute of China Renmin University.

Natural disasters this year had claimed the lives of 1,855 by the end of last month and forced the relocation of 15.16 million people, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

At least 21.52 million people need clothing, Wang Zhenyao, director of the ministry's department of disaster and social relief, said yesterday.

"Our goal is to supply clothes to those people by New Year's Day," Wang said, adding the job would be arduous, as it would take time to distribute donations to the vast number of the needy.

The ministry is apportioning 1.2 billion yuan (US$148 million) 200 million yuan (US$24.7 million) more than in average years for disaster relief operations between now and March. The bulk of the money will go to help feed affected people, he said.

The official also said there has been a marked increase in charitable activities following the landmark China Charity Conference last month in Beijing.

Wang's department is not just collecting it is also giving.

In addition to clothes and cotton quilts, ministry employees contributed 1.14 million yuan (US$140,740).

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions will spend 40 million yuan (US$4.94 million) between New Year's Day and the Lunar Chinese New Year which falls on January 29 to "send warmth" to poverty-stricken workers, including laid-off and migrant rural workers, Hang Yuan, a federation official, said yesterday.

Nearly all staff at the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles in Beijing participated enthusiastically in a donation drive, bringing with them woollen and padded clothes, quilts, mattresses, and cash.

By yesterday, the federation had received cash of more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) and 1,100 pieces of clothing and quilts.

The affiliated units of the federation will hand in their donations today.

(China Daily 12/14/2005 page1)

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