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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs