China: A Major Player in International Charity
Over the years since it opened its door wider to the outside world, China has become more involved in international charity campaigns through communication, cooperation, and various activities.
In recent years, China has actively contributed to international humanitarian aid.
On January 12, 2010, for example, a 7.3-Richter scale earthquake rocked Haiti, a Caribbean island nation. Despite the fact that it has no diplomatic ties with China, the Red Cross Society of China donated US$1 million for the sake of humanitarianism.
In February 2011, Libya suffered from severe humanitarian crisis with intensified situation caused by armed rebellion. In both August and October, China provided emergency humanitarian aid goods to Libya.
In February 2014, 10,000 boxes of humanitarian assistance were delivered from China to Kachin, a conflict area in northern Myanmar.
In recent years, China has launched philanthropically international humanitarian aid many times. The year 2004 saw its establishment of an emergency humanitarian aid response mechanism, drawing more philanthropic organizations, enterprises and individuals to be part of the efforts thanks to the great support and guidance of the government. Over the past five years, the Chinese government has participated in more than 200 campaigns, becoming a major force in international aid in Asia, Latin America, and Africa in particular.
China has spared no efforts in international humanitarian aid, governmentally and non-governmentally. Take disaster relief: In 2001, it established Chinese International Search and Rescue Team (CISRT), specializing in urgent search and rescue for victims buried under fallen structures after earthquakes and other disasters.
In 2003, when Algeria was stricken by an earthquake that measured 6.9 on the Richter scale, CISRT was sent for its first mission abroad. By the end of 2014, CISRT had worked in many countries, including Algeria, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti, New Zealand, and Japan, saving dozens of lives and providing medical services for over 40,000 wounded.
Blue Sky Rescue, founded in 2007, is a non-governmental non-profit professional emergency institution. Today, it is staffed with over 30,000 volunteers, many of whom performed excellent work during the typhoon relief in the Philippines in 2013 and the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal in 2014.
Foreign aid accounts for a big part of China’s charity activities overseas. In a broad sense, it covers projects in set, ordinary materials, technical cooperation, human resource development and cooperation, medical teams and volunteers, emergency humanitarian aid, and remission of debts of the recipient country.
Over the last few years, however, more focus has been placed on international aid in a “narrow” sense, such as resource integration, non-urgent development projects in the recipient area, and community development programs in urban and rural areas in the recipient country.
On this basis, Africa, Asia-pacific, and Central Asia have become major targets of China’s foreign aid and cooperation. So far, China has made and is going to make collaboration with many countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Myanmar, DPRK, Cambodia, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, with capital and technical support as well as people-to-people communication, aiming to support local communities in carrying out related activities, enhance the communities’ resilience and raise local people’s living standard.
Throughout its international aid, China has highlighted the construction of infrastructure in developing countries. During 2010 and 2012, it helped foreign countries with 156 economical infrastructure projects, 70 of which are transportation, 20 energy resources, and 60 informatization.
Over the past few years, China has increased its investment in environmental protection as well as the economic and social development in the recipient countries.
Chinese Philanthropists Overseas
With respect to Chinese groups, institutions, and organizations active abroad, more Chinese people have joined the team of international philanthropy, especially movie stars.
In 2008, for instance, Zhou Xun became China’s first goodwill ambassador in the United Nations Development Programme; in 2009, Li Bingbing was designated as an international goodwill ambassador by the UN Environment Programme; in 2010, Yao Chen was appointed honorary patron for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; in 2013, Lang Lang, an eminent pianist, became a UN peace envoy; Gong Li, one of the country’s earliest movie stars to cooperate with the United Nations, has served and serves as ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, UN World Food Programme Ambassador, and the global environmental protection ambassador for the UN Headquarters.
Cooperation with the United Nations and other international public interest organizations has inspired more Chinese stars to be part of the philanthropic campaigns. In 2013, Yao Chen, who had served as an honorary patron for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for three years, was appointed China’s goodwill ambassador thanks to her sustained passion and excellent performance.
“On many occasions, celebrity patrons and ambassadors working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have to go to remote areas with poor condition,” reveals an officer from the China office. “Without any salary, they have to pay their round-trip, food, and accommodation. Their missions cannot be accomplished without great love and passion for work.”
Some Chinese entrepreneurs have also started donating overseas. Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China, the country’s largest and only pure prime office developer, and his wife, donated US$15 million to provide scholarships for Chinese students attending Harvard University. Niu Gensheng, founder and honorary president of the Laoniu Foundation, established the Bethune Scholarship at Toronto University.
Still, more ordinary Chinese people have joined the team of charity overseas: More and more young people have participated in charitable programs or worked as interns for international or philanthropic organizations, contributing whatever they can to charitable endeavors across the world.