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Red Cross Society vows to improve transparency

By Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2012-09-03 08:07

Red Cross Society vows to improve transparency

Zhao Baige, executive vice-president of the Red Cross Society of China, reiterated at a recent news conference that the society is aligned with China's socialist market system as well as international humanitarian principles. It is expected to establish an efficient, transparent and normative system of management, information and supervision in three to five years, she said. Mai Tian / for China Daily

The Red Cross Society of China has vowed to establish an efficient, transparent and normative system of management, information and supervision in three to five years.

Zhao Baige, executive vice-president of the RCSC, said at a recent news conference that the society is aligned with China's socialist market system as well as international humanitarian principles.

"We have finished the design and public tender for both the software and hardware of the RCSC's information system," Zhao said, adding that the system's basic functions, especially those related to monetary donations, will be put into operation at the end of December.

The RCSC came under fire in 2011 after a woman calling herself Guo Meimei wrote micro blog posts claiming that she worked for an organization under the RCSC. Her posts also detailed her lavish lifestyle, leading some netizens to believe she was embezzling funds.

Although it was later found that the organization Guo claimed to work for did not exist, the incident had a negative impact on the RCSC and triggered calls for greater scrutiny over charitable organizations.

The State Council last month issued a guideline to encourage the RCSC to boost its transparency.

Zhao said the RCSC will carry out the requirements specified in the guideline. It plans to expand the use of the information system to 80 percent of the provincial branches of the RCSC by the end of 2013. It will also extend the system to more than 50 percent of the Red Cross outlets at the county level by the end of 2014.

"The system will help the RCSC improve its transparency through fundraising management, publicizing the use of funds and risk-warning in material management," Zhao said.

According to the guideline issued on Tuesday, organizations at all levels of the Red Cross must adhere to the rules of information-disclosure, make transparent the information on fundraising, financial management, bidding and procurement-funds allocation and respect the rights of donors.

The guideline also urged the RCSC to build a comprehensive supervision system to integrate self-monitoring with governmental and civil watchdogs and improve the work of its spokespersons in order to respond to public concerns promptly and thoroughly.

Zhao said the information on fundraising, expenses, public bidding and other financial related-areas should be made public through the information platform and the RCSC will rigorously implement the rules of information disclosure.

Zhao also vowed to safeguard the donors and people's rights to know, participate and to supervise the operation of the RCSC.

According to Zhao, small-sum donations through cellphone text messages had facilitated 240 million yuan ($37.68 million) in donations since the RCSC launched the donation channel in 2006. The RCSC saw a surge of 7.36 percent in donations in 2011 via text messages although the society was affected by "the micro blog incident".

"Since last year, the RCSC has set up open days to invite volunteers, donors, Internet users and journalists to visit the Red Cross society and know about its work," Zhao added.

In response to a question at the conference, Zhao said that Chinese people's living standards have been lifted during 30 years of development, adding that the development of a nation does not only depend on material benefits but also improvements in various fields including the economy, politics, society, culture and ecology.

"Not only the RCSC but also the whole society including the media, citizens and government have met difficulties during the procedure of development," said Zhao when addressing the urgency of the reform of the RCSC.

Since China restored its seat at the International Federation of Red Cross in 1952, as one of the 187 members, the RCSC has worked hard to become one of the strongest Red Cross societies, Zhao said.

In 2014, China will hold the international meeting for the members of the IFRC in the Asian region.

As the government guideline promised, it will help the RCSC take an active part in the international Red Cross movement and other overseas humanitarian programs.

Zhao also thanked the international community for its help and resources it provided and stressed that it was time for China to reward the world.

"The RCSC is now planning to cooperate with countries in Africa and Asia as well as regions neighboring China," Zhao said.

China is also willing to share experiences and lessons with countries around the world and further implement the international humanitarian principles to carry out foreign aid, which plays an important role in public diplomacy.

The RCSC is the only national Red Cross society in the People's Republic of China. It has about 27 million members and 2.16 million volunteers.

The RCSC's humanitarian efforts in China include disaster relief, first aid training and charity programs. The organization also handles blood and human organ donations.

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