Corruption fears over China quake donations

Thursday 29 May 2008 16.44
China - Money funnelled to quake victims
China - Money funnelled to quake victims

Fears are growing that not all funds given for China’s earthquake survivors will reach those in need.

In the two weeks since the quake that rocked southwestern Sichuan province, €3.2bn in donations has been collected at home and abroad.

However, reports have already emerged of diverted aid supplies or scams being launched to grab a piece of the donations.

President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that corruption is one of the biggest threats to the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.

With the eyes of the world on China's relief effort, the government has said that any corruption involving the relief money would be dealt with harshly.

‘Making a profit from a national calamity by withholding and embezzling quake relief funds and supplies goes against the principles of justice,’ He Guoqiang, secretary of the party's  Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Most of the aid donations are being funnelled through the Chinese Red Cross, the non-governmental China Charity Federation or various governmental groups.

About a third of the donated money has already reached the disaster zone, according to the Chinese government.

However, authorities have uncovered several instances of misuse of funds.

68,516 people were killed and another 19,350 are missing as a result of the quake, according to the latest figures.

In the quake-devastated city of Mianyang, the People's Daily reported 10 cases of tents being used by people whose homes had not been destroyed.

In the city of Deyang, government officials were found hiding cases of milk, biscuits and drinks in a store run by their relatives, a website reported.

Another case involved a policeman in Chengdu, capital of quake-hit Sichuan province, who was accused of commandeering refugee tents. The case caused a protest by hundreds of people.

Quake aftershocks could continue

Meanwhile, scientists have said that China's Sichuan region can expect to be rocked by aftershocks for weeks and months - possibly years - but the power of the aftershocks will gradually diminish.

Since the 12 May 7.9-magnitude quake, a series of strong aftershocks has occurred along the quake's 250km fault line, running southwest to northeast outside of Chengdu.

Seismologists have recorded around 150 aftershocks above a magnitude of 4, with the highest a 6, and warn that a major aftershock of around 6.9 is still possible.