- Wuhan Red Cross is suspected of money laundering.
- Chinese people have started to boycott the Red Cross.
- In China, the Red Cross is not an NGO. It is subject to the State Council and receives national funds.
This Thursday, the World Health Organization finally declared the new Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, which has infected 9,922 people and caused 213 deaths in 21 countries. Nearly 60% of patients are located in the center of the outbreak, Hubei province in China.
The Chinese government has prolonged several times the holidays to make people stay at home as long as possible. Face masks are recommended as a simple prevention when in public. However, the months-long duration of this outbreak has resulted in an enormous shortage of medical materials across China for the citizens and hospitals. Lots of hospitals in Wuhan keep demanding more protective suits and face masks. Trying to help, many organizations started to collect donations and send them to the hospitals. The Red Cross in Wuhan, obviously, has been the choice of many.
Han Hong, a famous singer in China, collected $4.5 million through her charity foundation and used the money to buy medical materials, which she delivered personally in Wuhan. Her foundation posted online a detailed list of where every received penny had gone. Internet users praise her kind heart, and meanwhile, they started to ask other organizations to do the same. That’s when the Wuhan Red Cross started to fall apart.
In China, the Red Cross is not an NGO. It is subject to the State Council and receives national funds. Wuhan Red Cross’s highest officer is the deputy province governor, who has been slashed online these days for being incompetent. After days of being asked to reveal the destinations of donations, the Wuhan Red Cross posted a simple summary that sparked outrage.
In the post, it stated that the Red Cross had allocated only 3,000 face masks to Wuhan Union Hospital, one of the most important hospitals in Hubei. However, it sent 15,000 face masks to Wuhan Ren’ai Hospital, a small hospital with a bad reputation that only offers gynecology treatments. Interestingly, internet users found out that Ren’ai Hospital is owned by Fen Haibo, who also owns the company that donated the face masks to Wuhan Red Cross in the first place. There are several interpretations over why and how Haibo did this, like he could reduce greatly his tax due to the elevated amount of donations contributed, or he bribed the Red Cross to launder money.
Moreover, lots of people complain online that they need to go over lots of bureaucratic procedures to donate, and same when receiving them. According to its 2018 annual financial report, the Wuhan Red Cross spent $402,000 on salaries. During that year, it had only 12 employees, which means on average each employee received an annual salary of $33,500. The average annual income in Wuhan is only $10,600.
This is not the first time that the Red Cross has disappointed people. In 2008, after the Wenchuan Earthquake, the Red Cross asked the Ministry of Finance for over $1.87 million to buy 1,000 tents for Wenchuan, which meant each tent would cost $1,870. In 2011, an invoice showed that Red Cross paid over $1,400 for a dinner by its employees. In the same year, it was revealed that each director at the Beijing Red Cross was equipped with two luxury cars. Most of these and many other similar cases did not end with a clear explanation.
If you look up Red Cross on Zhihu and Sina Weibo right now, all the posts are asking people to stop donating to them.