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Top news in civil society in 2013

Updated: 2013-12-26 17:14

Following are top news in the civil society in China.


Safe havens

An expanding pilot program that provides "safe havens" for abandoned children in several provinces proved controversial amid suggestions it made it easier for parents to abandon their children.

The air-conditioned "havens" feature an incubator and a cot and ensure that children abandoned by their parents are left in a safe, warm environment.

The "safe havens" are in response to media reports in March citing several cases where infants died after being abandoned.

Animal rescue

Funds were needed to help and care for dogs that had been rescued from imminent slaughter and a court decision helped pave the way.

On Oct 28, the China Small Animal Protection Association was told by a Beijing court that it could care for dogs rescued on April 15, 2011. The 500 dogs were saved by a group of animal rights volunteers when they stopped a truck transferring the dogs to a slaughterhouse on the Beijing-Harbin Highway.

Girls starved to death

The bodies of two starved girls were found in their Nanjing home in June after their drug-addicted mother, Le Yan, disappeared. The mother was found and sentenced to life imprisonment for intentional homicide in September. But the tragedy highlights the fact that children whose neglectful parents are alive cannot be placed in care.

Water pollution

Online posts claimed in February that chemical plants in Weifang, Shandong province, were pumping wastewater into the ground through high-pressure wells, causing wide pollution.

No evidence was found to support this claim after an investigation but there are growing concerns over water quality.

According to research, underground water in nearly half of the cities in China was found to be unclean and carrying carcinogenic toxins. Experts are now calling for legislation to protect underground drinking water.

High-profile philanthropy

Chen Guangbiao, famous for his high-profile philanthropy, was again in the public spotlight after making huge donations to help victims of the Ya'an earthquake in April. Chen said his philanthropy was driven by a sense of responsibility. "My brother and sister starved to death when I was little, I don't want others to suffer from the same thing again."

World AIDS Day

China's First Lady Peng Liyuan attended a program of events for World AIDS Day on Nov 30. The theme for this year was "Getting to Zero". Peng is a WHO ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS and a publicity representative of the Health Ministry in its battle against HIV/AIDS. She also presented a special event for World AIDS Day in 2012.

Ancient houses

Actor Jackie Chan's announcement that he would donate four of his 10 ancient Chinese houses to a university in Singapore was badly received by the public in April. An expert of cultural relics said that China does not permit the export of historical relics, so what Chan planned to do was illegal. When Chan wrote on his micro blog earlier about this decision, he faced questions about his patriotism. According to reports, two of the ancient houses were relics of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Shark fin ban

The government set up a campaign against extravagance, and a shark fin soup ban at official banquets was among the measures. According to regulations from the General Office of the State Council, expensive food and wine are not permitted at receptions and the number of guests are also restricted.

Paying the price

There are more than 200 cafeterias in at least 20 cities selling "suspended food". This allows customers to buy food for others or even to eat themselves without paying. Trust is paramount and depends on the customers paying what they consider a fair price.

But the concept has not reached its full potential and many customers are eating without paying.

'Visit for you'

New policies that require people to visit elderly relatives have seen the emergence of a "visit service".

There are even online shops selling this service on Taobao, where prices range from 8 yuan ($1.3) to 3,000 yuan. The service includes not only visiting old people, but chatting with them and helping with the housework.

One Foundation in Lushan quake

One Foundation, an independent public fundraising foundation in China, collected more than 240 million yuan for victims of the Lushan earthquake within 15 days. The amount may owe something to the popularity of one of the foundation's establishers, Jet Li, who is a world-famous action movie star. But experts say that the rapid response was due to people wanting to help as quickly as possible.