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China's Red Cross hit by new claims

(China Daily)

08:27, October 14, 2011

BEIJING / Jinan - The Red Cross Society of China is under new scrutiny after reports that some of its local organizations are collecting mandatory membership fees from primary and middle school students.

A woman surnamed Zhang in Lixia district of Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong province, paid two yuan (30 cents) last week when her 9-year-old son came home with teachers' instructions to make the donation to the China Red Cross.

She was concerned that her son did not know what the donation was for and that a normally voluntary act should be made compulsory. Her concern intensified when she recalled a spate of credibility and corruption scandals that had recently plagued the charity organization.

"Parents always do what teachers ask of them, with no question or doubt raised," she said.

Zhang declined to name the school or provide any teacher's contact information to avoid causing trouble for her son at school.

Hou Xuelin, a teacher at Jinan Experimental Middle School, said students' extracurricular activities related to the China Red Cross, such as making donations and providing community service, are widely understood as an important part of their moral education. Each faculty member must also donate 10 yuan a year, a practice recently made voluntary after being mandatory for several years, according to Hou.

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