A new regulation that stipulates the legal liabilities of the Red Cross and its staff if they “do not give feedback to donors in accordance with the law” is being added to the revised draft of the Red Cross Society Law, reported China News Service on February 22.
In 2011, a young woman named Guo Meimei stirred national outrage by flaunting her wealth on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter: living in a big Beijing villa and driving a Maserati while claiming to be a general manager of Red Cross Commerce.
The credibility of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), to which Guo had claimed her company was affiliated, was affected, as people questioned how a young woman working for a charitable organization could be so wealthy.
Although it was never clear exactly what Guo’s actual connection to the RCSC was and the RCSC denied any connection at all, the scandal brought to light problems with state-run charity organizations, which were roundly criticized as monopolizing philanthropy and lacking transparency. After the scandal, RCSC took measures to ensure better management and its local branches started disclosing to the public how donations are used. Guo was later convicted on charges of organizing gambling.
The new regulation added to the Red Cross Law marks the first official legislation that guarantees disclosure of information on where donations go.
If donors are not updated or given a receipt, the Red Cross Society and its staff are instructed to correct the error through an audit by the civil affairs departments, resulting in appropriate punishments or even criminal charges if they’re found to have done wrong.