Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chinese Tactic at collecting Donations in the recent Sichuan Earthquake

What do you reckon is the tactic used recently in China to squeeze donations out of foreign companies? Humiliation... yes, you are right, thats what the local media in China is doing to pressure the foreign companies to increase their donations.

By Tuesday this week, foreign companies had donated 1.2 billion yuan ($175 million) in cash, plus supplies worth 108 million yuan ($15.5 million), according to the government.

Despite that, nationalistic Chinese Web surfers who react angrily to any perceived slight to their country have accused foreign companies of failing to provide enough help.

A posting on popular search engine's blog service listed corporate donations and said they were smaller than those after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Comments on online bulletin boards criticized McDonald's Corp., Yum Brands Inc.'s KFC restaurants, Toyota Motor Corp., Nokia, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Corp. and French retailer Carrefour SA.

In fact Sina has created a page on their site providing latest updates on how much had been donated and even ranked them with the company's logos. This is really pathetic and making a mockery out of the whole idea of donation. I m sure many of you would agree that making donation isnt like a competition but whats happening in China is everybody is now competing as to who can donate more. And when your donations arent substantial enough, you will be made a subject of humiliation.

There were several catastrophes that had taken place all over the world from Sept 11, the Asian Tsunami and even the latest typhoon that had hit Myanmar killing more than 100,000 victims. What about donations to Myanmar? The devastation in Myanmar is probably of a bigger magnitude but nobody seem to talk about it now as the media coverage had shifted to China. I admit its difficult time for everybody especially for the victims but the media had certainly played a big role in turning this into a mockery.

I worked in a multinational based in China who had made several contributions to the Sichuan earthquake both monetary and also indirect contributions like mobile phones and SIM cards. On top of making a direct monetary contribution, our company and its staff had initiated a company-wide project to collect donations from all the employees.

Booths were setup in all our offices to collect donations from the staff. The company had also created special bank account to allow us to make direct donations from our bank account. The company had also committed to match dollar for dollar for all the donations coming from the employees. If these were not good enough, i m not sure what can be regarded as sufficient. And i m sure all the other foreign companies based in China are doing all they can to help out the victims afterall most of the employees are local Chinese who may have friends or relatives living in the affected areas.

The focus now should be on the survival and rebuilding of the affected areas. Life must continue no matter how difficult it may be for the victims and credit must go to everybody who are involved in the rescue efforts especially the Chinese goverment who had been playing the major role from day 1.


Vinci said...

I think you have mis-interpreted the intention of Sina in putting the donation amounts online. I don't think there is any intention to press the foreign companies to donate more. There were rumours posted in online forums that some foreign companies had donated very little. Those people also called for boycott of these foreign countries. These rumours were immediately refuted by making reference to news articles about the donations of foreign companies. The page by Sina is also a very good reference for refuting such rumours.

Vinci said...

Just one more comment. Before that, let me express my appreciation for your help to the Chinese people. Regarding the criticisms on the foreign companies you mentioned, I don't know if you have read those discussions yourself or just from the online news sources. What I want to point out is that all the online news sources about such criticism came from a single dubious article of the Associated Press. It started out from a single blogger who criticized some foreign companies of doing too little (with some incorrect amounts quoted and those amounts were very small). Other people posted his comments (which was a rumour) on online forums. Many people readily pointed out his errors and said this idiot was doing a big disservice to the Chinese people, although some nationalistic comments supported that idiot (probably due to the previous olympic touch issue). But anyway, nobody really cared about this issue.

Then Joe Mcdonald of Associated Press wrote an article which suggested that such criticism was widespread and that this was what most Chinese think. That whole article is complete nonsense. Out of his own prejudice, he said the Chinese government took an unprecedented step in thanking the companies from other countries because of such criticisms. What's wrong in thanking the foreign companies? And this is certainly NOT unprecedented. What is unprecedented is the help from all the foreign companies! It is all too natural to thank them! The Chinese government also thanked a lot of different countries. How could such a normal thing be interpreted as the response to the criticisms of just a single blogger that nobody really cares? This single article from AP got carried over by all other "news sources".

This is a disturbing trend in online news publishing. A single article could easily get carried over to all other "news sources" and it looks like the whole world is reporting the same thing. This is not the first time this happened to articles from the AP.