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Int'l Red Cross praises RCSC's improvements

Xinhua

BEIJING - International Red Cross officials have recognized the efforts and achievements made by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) despite the society's degrading credibility in China.

"The RCSC is a member of our family, which has made us proud and appreciative of its achievements," said Bekele Geleta, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at a seminar held on Monday in Beijing.

Bekele said the progress that has been made in rebuilding communities devastated by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, as well as the 2013 Lushan quake, has been impressive.

Both quakes occurred in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Bekele said he hopes the RCSC will boost cooperation internationally and enhance its influence as a humanitarian organization within the international Red Cross family.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, praised the RCSC's contributions in promoting international Red Cross exchanges and helping establish platforms for aiding African countries.

The RCSC has been the target of public criticism in China due to a series of scandals, including one involving a woman who claimed to work for "Red Cross Commerce," an organization that the RCSC has said does not exist.

The woman, who referred to herself as "Guo Meimei," posted photos of expensive possessions online, leading some to speculate that she was embezzling from the RCSC.

It will be a great pity if the RCSC's efforts are blanketed by criticism, said Martin Faller, head of IFRC's East Asia Regional Delegation.

After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan County on April 20, the RCSC responded by sending 25 rescue teams and more than 400 workers and volunteers, as well as disaster relief materials, to the quake zone, according to Martin.

Martin said the society has begun important reforms to improve its management and enhance transparency, such as making detailed information concerning the use of donations available to the public.

Martin said the reforms should help the public recognize the society's determination to improve.

He said that many other countries had suffered from such crises and it can learn from their experience. But he said restoring its credibility will be a gradual process.

Zhao Baige, executive vice president of the RCSC, reiterated her determination improve the organization's management, make it more transparent and enhance its humanitarian aid capabilities.

Zhao said previously that she will quit her job if she fails to repair the society's reputation within two or three years.

Zhao said the RCSC raised more than 560 million yuan ($91 million) in the first four days after the Lushan earthquake, or nearly 50 percent of the total donations received for quake relief at that time.

The RCSC's trust crisis will be ultimately resolved by establishing an open, transparent and effective mechanism that allows for public participation, she said.

"The process will be painful and long," she said.

As a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the largest organization of its kind in China, the RCSC boasts over 98,000 sub-organizations and more than 26 million members across the country.