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January 17, 2014

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Netizens ridicule financial aid for ‘poor’ citizen

OFFICIALS from Zhabei District government apologized yesterday after a picture on its official microblog of a “poor” family receiving government subsidies under a Spring Festival scheme caused a furor online.

The picture of officials visiting a local “poor” family in a well-furnished apartment had netizens questioning the definition of poor and the merits of government grants.

The city government has announced a one-time financial subsidy of 50 yuan (US$8.24) to 390 yuan for some 5.4 million people before the festival.

A district government official explained that the woman pictured in the blog was a cancer patient who was not keen to publicize her condition.

They simply changed her status as  “poor” instead of “sick” which  led to the uproar.

“We deeply regret causing so much misunderstanding and also apologize to the resident, surnamed Zhu, in the picture,” the government said in a statement on its microblog.

The district government had reposted the picture from the microblog account of the Diligang Residential Committee on Tianmu Road W., saying officials from the Women’s Federation visited Zhu, and presented her with monetary assistance ahead of the Spring Festival that falls on January 31.

“Poor” Zhu can be seen sitting opposite officials in a large well-decorated sitting room, complete with a big projection TV and high-end speakers.

The picture became the subject of ridicule with questions asked on who qualifies as “poor families” needing state assistance.

“How can a poor family live in such a big apartment and watch projection television. Is the public money being used to serve the real poor people?” netizen Jerry asked on the site.

“This is a total misunderstanding because the disease has posed great economic burden on Zhu’s family,” an official with the community said.

People who are covered under the subsidy include those living on the poverty line, local retirees, and people suffering from serious burden due to diseases. The unemployed and poor college students are also included in the festival subsidy scheme.

Retired soldiers and families of dead soldiers, already receiving regular subsidies, will be given a maximum 390 yuan.

Unemployed people with serious disability besides the elderly, minor and disabled people in suburban areas without income will receive 300 yuan.

Poor families will receive 150 yuan-worth coupon to buy edible oil and food.



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