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China Proposes 'Charity Day' to Boost Charity Undertaking

ShandongProvince on China's east coast has proposed a "Charity Day" on May 18, traditionally a red-letter day in China because it's pronounced in Chinese very much like "I'll make a fortune".


The Shandong provincial government, however, has decided to take the opportunity to urge the richer people to help the needy, saying May 18 should read as "wo yao bang", meaning "I will help" in Chinese.


The date is actually pronounced in Chinese as "wu yao ba", which sounds very much like "wo yao fa", or "I will make a fortune". The date has therefore been an auspicious time to get married or launch a new company.


In the run-up to the first ever Charity Day celebrations in China, charity organizations in Shandong Province, birth place of the two most prestigious ancient Chinese philosophers Confucius and Mencius, launched a massive one-yuan donation program in April to involve more people in charity undertakings.


Organizers of the event hope to carry forward the centuries-old value for benevolence, preached by the two philosophers whose thinking is the essence of the Chinese culture even today.


By donating just one yuan (US$0.13), the donors can get a dainty knot made of red ribbon to symbolize love and kindness.


A leukemia patient in the city of Yantai also participated in the program.


Luan Lijun, 20, was diagnosed of the fatal disease in 2003 but her family could not afford her treatment. She received 100,000 yuan (US$12,820) of donation from local charity organizations and individuals.


Knowing that she still needs to wait for the matching stem cells for an operation, Luan passed on the donation, plus her own one yuan, to Gong Yufeng, a leukemia patient in the central Hubei Province whose operation has been scheduled but badly needs the cash.


In Qingdao, a non-governmental charity body known as "tiny dust" has been donating cash to the needy people since the SARS epidemic attack in the spring of 2003. No one knows for sure how many members the organization has or who they are, but whenever someone is in need, a number of donors will send cash by mail or in person, leaving their names as "tiny dust".


"Tiny dust" was elected one of the 10 most inspiring people in China in 2006.


Charity organizations in Shandong Province has received 1.3 billion yuan of cash donations in the past decade and helped more than 2 million people.


"China is at an important stage to boost its charity undertakings as more people become rich," said Prof. Zheng Gongcheng of the Chinese Renmin University in Beijing. "Charity work is also important in narrowing the gap between the rich and poor."


Chinese charity funds received only 5 billion yuan of cash donations in 2004, about 0.05 percent of that year's GDP, said Zheng.


The proportion was 2.17 percent in the United States, 0.88 percent in Britain and 0.77 percent in Canada, he said.


(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2007)

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