Red Cross a 'world leader' despite credibility crisis

Updated: 2011-11-03 09:20

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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TIANJIN - Representatives of the international Red Cross on Wednesday came out in support of the scandal-hit Red Cross Society of China, calling it a model from which the world can learn.

The group was hailed for involving youngsters and for spreading the international humanitarian law, as well as the spirit of humanity, universal fraternity and devotion.

"It's amazing that China has set up so many Red Cross organizations in schools and universities," said Nicolle Lafleur from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"I'm glad to see many schools in China have offered training courses about first aid and disaster response," she said at the society's National Youth Work Conference in Tianjin.

Despite a series of accusations, the international groups said China remains the "world leader" in carrying out humanitarian work, especially spreading the mission among the young.

According to the China Red Cross, 53,248 organizations have been set up on campuses so far, accounting for 12.6 percent of all schools in China.

Besides the 90,000 members volunteering for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and last year's Shanghai Expo, many members organized first-aid teams on campus to provide emergency services when their peers are in need.

"Devotion and universal fraternity is more than a slogan here in China," said Lafleur. "It's all about deeds."

Sukhdave Singh, regional adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Asia, also highly appreciated China's efforts in promoting international humanitarian law, especially among students.

"Many schools in China have included the course of international humanitarian law into the curriculum as mandatory or selective courses," said Singh. "Students are shown documentaries or cartoons to further understand the law."

Singh also mentioned that in China, as well as some other countries, members of the Red Cross are usually more capable in team management and leadership, and easily stand out when hunting for a job after graduation.

"Companies like those devoted staff, a spirit of the Red Cross," said Singh.

Following a spate of criticism that arose over a donation scandal in which a 20-year-old woman called Guo Meimei boasted on her micro blog about her wealth and close connections to the China Red Cross, the society has again drawn intense criticism.

Parents from several big cities, including Shenyang, Jinan and Xi'an, complained that their children were forced to pay about 5 yuan (70 cents) a year for membership in the Red Cross organizations in school.

In response to the public's doubts, China Red Cross officials on Wednesday said the complaints were an "alert" to the management of their activities, and they would rely on more self-supervision in the future, adding that public monitoring is welcome.

China Daily