News / Asia

Chinese Red Cross Still Feeling Impact from 2011 Scandal

Guo Meimei attends a jewelry auction in Beijing, China, Dec. 1, 2013.
Guo Meimei attends a jewelry auction in Beijing, China, Dec. 1, 2013.

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities reported the death toll from Sunday’s earthquake in Yunnan province jumped to 589. As the government and other groups collect donations to help relief, China's largest charity organization - the China Red Cross - continues battling a three-year-old public relations crisis involving a one-time internet celebrity.

Reversal of fortune

The image of Guo Meimei in handcuffs is a far cry from the way she used to advertise herself on social media: a young, rich celebrity with a taste for expensive cars and designer clothes.

The 23-year-old has now confessed on national TV to charges of gambling and prostitution - crimes she was accused of in mid July.
 
During her confession, Guo also apologized for a three year old “mistake,” that triggered her notoriety but also plunged the Red Cross Society of China into a huge credibility crisis.

"I made a huge mistake to gratify my vanity. I want to say sorry to the Red Cross, all of society, and especially to all the people who cannot get aid from the Red Cross,” she said.

In 2011, Guo posed online as a senior manager at the China Red Cross hinting her lavish lifestyle was in fact a product of people's donation to the charity.
 
Guo was at the time rumored to have been the mistress of a high ranking Red Cross official named Wang Jun.  Another Wang Jun, a businessman from Shenzhen, has since come forward saying he was her benefactor, providing Guo with living expenses and a Maserati.

Bad timing

What has surprised many in China was the timing of her televised confession, broadcast on the same day a strong earthquake hit Yunnan province killing hundreds, and just as charity groups around the country started calling for donations.

“Through condemning Guo Meimei as a bad girl, as a criminal, maybe the Red Cross is innocent. The government hopes the people will change their attitude towards the Red Cross,” said Xu Jianhua, professor of sociology at the University of Macau..

A woman cries over an album on the debris of her house at the earthquake zone of Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunan province, China, Aug. 6, 2014.A woman cries over an album on the debris of her house at the earthquake zone of Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunan province, China, Aug. 6, 2014.
x
A woman cries over an album on the debris of her house at the earthquake zone of Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunan province, China, Aug. 6, 2014.
A woman cries over an album on the debris of her house at the earthquake zone of Longtoushan town, Ludian county, Zhaotong, Yunan province, China, Aug. 6, 2014.

This week, the Red Cross Society of China announced it had collected about $5 million in donations to help fund relief efforts in quake-hit areas of Yunnan province.

“This is a relatively small amount, and it shows that people in China still have a distrustful attitude towards the Red Cross, and the effects of the Guo Meimei's scandal have not cleared up yet,” said economics professor Hu Xingdou.

Forget her

In a message of frustration issued through the China Red Cross official microblog earlier this week, the charity called for people in China to “forget Guo Meimei,” and focus on humanitarian relief instead.

But Hu Xingdou said scandals like that with Guo Meimei were the least of problems for big charity groups in China.

“More than 99 percent of charity contributions in China are given to local governments as extra budget income," he said. "How do these governments spend that money is unknown? How can people trust to give money in a system like that?”

He added that national charities in China lack transparency and operate in a black box. It was inevitable, he said, that there would be corruption and with it, mistrust.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid