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Charity awards row over minimum donation threshold

By Mo Ting (Global Times)

08:20, January 04, 2012

A senior Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) official yesterday refused to comment on a controversial 1 million-yuan ($160,000) donation threshold for donors to qualify for China's most prestigious charity award.

The MCA set the minimum threshold last Friday at a press conference for the Seventh China Charity Awards, which will select 2011's most charitable individual and company.

But the 1 million-yuan threshold has sparked heated debate. A Beijing News editorial said that the threshold might make it impossible for grass-roots individuals and small-scale entrepreneurs to figure among the candidates. Philanthropy is also perhaps not best measured in terms of money alone, the paper said.

However, the director of the MCA's charity department, who is surnamed Meng, refused comment on the issue to the Global Times yesterday.

The awards recognize outstanding acts of charity and corporate social responsibility, honoring companies, organizations and individuals.

They have taken place since 2005 and are regarded as the top government prize in Chinese philanthropy. Candidates can put themselves forward or be recommended by others. The nomination process will last from January 10 to February 24, according to the MCA.

Last summer, China's charity sector was hit hard by the Guo Meimei scandal, in which a young girl claiming to work for the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), the country's biggest charity organization, posted photographs of her lavish lifestyle on her microblog.

The suggestion that charity money was being used to pay for designer clothing and sports cars led to a sharp decline in public donations.

In July, RCSC suspended all CBSRCS operations and began an investigation. On Saturday, RCSC claimed in its report that Guo had no connection to its China Business System Red Cross Society (CBSRCS), where Guo claimed to work as general manager.

On Sunday, RCSC went a step further and decided to shut down CBSRCS, according to the Xinhua News Agency.


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