BEIJING - In an attempt to improve transparency and recapture the public's confidence, the Red Cross Society of China is planning to set up a supervision team comprised of people from outside the society by the end of this year.
Wang Rupeng, secretary-general of the China arm of the international humanitarian organization, said the initiative combines both self-discipline and public supervision and is a breakthrough in efforts to strengthen transparency.
The society drew intense criticism and was the subject of speculation about the possible abuse of donations following a scandal in which a 20-year-old woman named Guo Meimei claimed online that she was the general manager of a company called Red Cross Commerce. In her online postings, Guo boasted of a luxurious lifestyle and posted photos of high-end cars and palatial homes.
During the public relations nightmare that followed, the National Audit Office issued a report in which it listed what it said were the charity's five financial problems. They included overspending and the improper allocation of funds.
To address the problems, agencies and organizations nationwide beneath the Red Cross umbrella convened on Wednesday with the goal of finding ways to restore public confidence and boost transparency.
Hua Jianmin, president of the society, said: "Honesty and uprightness should be the lifeblood of our humanitarian organizations and we should establish credibility through rigorous regulations and strict discipline."
Wang Wei, the charity's vice-president, urged local branches to strengthen their routine supervision.
The Red Cross also said on Thursday it will better manage donated money and make public related bidding, outsourcing and procurement.
On Monday, the society opened its official micro blog on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. It hopes the site will help it improve its interaction with netizens.
As of 4:30 pm on Tuesday, the online micro blog postings from the charity were being forwarded by more than 25,600 Sina micro-bloggers and more than 61,800 followers had posted comments.
Many of the comments were negative and contained harsh criticism of the society and some even requested the return of their donations, according to a report by the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily.
In response, Wang told the paper the society fully understands how people feel, but he said it was not feasible to return donations.
He also said the charity will address its problems and learn lessons from the scandal, including becoming more transparent.
On July 1, the charity said in an online statement that it will invite auditing institutions to check revenues and expenditures of the Red Cross Society for Commerce Sector, a group founded in 2000 by the China General Chamber of Commerce with the approval of the Red Cross Society of China.
The Red Cross Society for Commerce Sector primarily engages in charity fundraising in China's commercial sector and organizes emergency relief efforts. Funds raised by the group are supposed to be channeled directly to the Red Cross Society of China.