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Charity woes to drive China's social welfare reform


08:21, March 04, 2013

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Though the tragedy of a recent fatal private orphanage fire still aches in China's memory and doubts remain as to the credibility of some government-run charities, analysts have said that this climate will push forward reform in China's social welfare system.

The government has all along been playing a dominant role in guiding philanthropy in China, helping many in need to solve their problems. However, speculation of corruption has cast a cloud over some government-sponsored charity groups due to their monopoly in recent years.

Meanwhile, economic development has spurred the development of private charities, but their development has also been haunted by frequent tragic incidents.

In the latest, a Jan.-4 fire in an unlicensed orphanage killed six children and one 20-year-old man in central China's Henan Province.

The tragic incident not only revealed a dearth of government-run orphanages, but also brought the predicament of private charity into the public spotlight.

"Such a tragedy should not happen again," said 73-year-old farmer Wang Jiayu, who adopted more than 500 orphans in 19 years.

Wang's life saw dramatic change last year with all the 200 children remaining in his unregistered shelter being transferred to a public orphanage in Yingshang County in east China's Anhui Province, Wang being named honorary president of the facility.

"I'm a farmer with limited education. I can't run an orphanage as well as the government. The government should take over mine," he said. "But situations differ. For private orphanages whose loving owners are more capable, the government should help them to sustain."

"I really hope the upcoming parliament session can push forward the development of private charities and solve the 'loving dilemma' of private adoption," Wang said of annual sessions of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, which will open on March 5.

According to sociologist Wang Kaiyu with the Anhui Academy of Social Sciences, China does not have enough charity professionals in government at grass-roots levels to incorporate all public welfare issues into their management.

He stressed the importance of innovation in social management by giving full play to the irreplaceable role of privately charity institutions.

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