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Officials defend city's charity bid

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

The controversy was sparked after the Yingyang City government in Henan Province was reported to issue a decree of setting up more than 1,000 charity organizations and introducing 3,000-plus charity image ambassadors, today's Shanghai Morning Post reported.

Yingyang introduced the charity program to boost charity donations, according to Liang Yan, chief of the city's charity federation.

The federation collected a little over 1 million yuan in the first half year, only one eighth of last year, she noted.

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.

For example, restaurant operators must donate 10 percent of the charge for each "charity dinner."

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.

Sun Ziqiang, whose drug store joined the charity program, is worried whether the charity title would attract more business to his store. And, if so, whether his profits would be affected by the charity discounts.

Netizens are more frank with their criticism against the government decree.

"For people in a city where salaries are short of 2,000 yuan (US$292.62) a month, are they rich enough to make regular charity donations?" a local Netizen challenged.


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