Scandal Deals Blow to China’s Philanthropy

    One of the photos posted by Guo MeiMei on her blog.

    An online corruption scandal involving a woman who claims to be a senior official of the Red Cross Society of China has cast a shadow over the future of philanthropic efforts in the Asian country.

    Guo Meimei appears to hold a high-ranking position at China’s Red Cross  and boasted of owning luxury cars and handbags, as well as leading a jet-set life. Guo posted several photos of her with the expensive items she owns on a microblog.

    The Red Cross of China, however, has denied any links to Guo, according to the New York Times.

    Observers say that this scandal and others of the same nature have made donors in China more wary of charities despite government officials’ reliance on nonprofit organizations for coping with growing social needs such as education and health care.

    “People have had doubts for a very long time,” said Nongovernmental Organization Research Center Director Jia Xijin at Tsinghua University in Beijing, as quoted by NYT. “The issue is public trust or accountability of charities, the accountability of philanthropy organizations in China.”

    Philanthropy is only starting to develop in China, a country with 115 billionaires, according to Forbes magazine. Many of the country’s rich are looking to do good by donating money but are concerned about corruption in charities.

    In September last year, billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffett went to China to promote charitable giving. The two have established the Giving Pledge initiative, which encourages the world’s richest business people to give away at least half of their wealth to charity. 

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    About the author

    • Louie-An Pilapil

      Louie-An is a former senior development analyst at Devex Manila. She has held consulting and editorial positions at the Asian Development Bank in Manila and a business-to-business media company in Hong Kong and mainland China.