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August 13, 2009

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Huge charity initiative has residents up in alms

OFFICIALS of a central China city have defended its massive charity bid which has drawn sharp public criticism.

The controversy was sparked after the Xingyang City government in Henan Province was reported to have issued a decree setting up more than 1,000 charity organizations and introducing 5,000-plus charity image ambassadors, yesterday's Shanghai Morning Post reported.

Xingyang introduced the charity program to boost charity donations, the report said, citing Liang Yan, chief of the city's charity federation.

The federation collected a little over 1 million yuan (US$146,304) in the first half of the year, only on-eighth of last year, she said.

Charity donation collection boxes, charity dinners and charity supermarkets will be spread citywide under the new program, the newspaper reported.

Businesses carrying the title of "charity" must provide discounts to the city's needy and donate part of their revenue to charity organizations, according to the decree.

Local residents complained the decree posed heavy economic pressures on them.

Resident Wang Cheng told the newspaper he lived on a tight budget and had no extra money for charity donations.

Netizens were more frank.

"In a city where salaries are short of 2,000 yuan a month, are people rich enough to make regular charity donations?" a Netizen challenged.


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