Online payment systems factor into many Chinese people’s daily lives. Alipay had over 270 million active users while WeChat’s “Wallet” service had over 200 million registered users in 2015. But in the newly proposed draft document for China’s first law governing charitable donations, online payments have been prohibited despite their use in the encouragement of personal charitable activities.
The draft document was submitted to the National People’s Congress for review on Friday, after the primary law first being proposed back in 2005 by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs. The new definition for charitable activities will include all activities that improve education, science, culture, public health, environmental protection and “all activities that meet the social public interest”.
The draft also has comprehensive regulations governing the establishment, internal management and discipline of charitable organizations. March 5th will be set as the National Charity Day of China.
China has seen frequent fraud committed in the name of collecting donations over the past few years. In October, a man cheated Internet users out of RMB 800,000 (USD 127,000) online, by spreading a story that his girlfriend was seriously wounded in an attempt to save a kid’s life. A 19-year-old high school student was arrested in August for soliciting fake donations through Weibo during the Tianjin Explosion.
According to China Youth Daily it’s reported that as many as 230,000 incidences of fraud were committed in 2014, with only one tenth of them having been reported. Specific rules are needed to regulate charitable activities to avoid scams.
Based on the draft document of the newly proposed charitable law, public donation campaigns initiated by unauthorized parties will be prohibited. Organizations or individuals will need to gain permission from pertinent government departments and collaborate with authorized organizations before campaigns can be launched.
This proposal might have the unintended effect of hindering the currently popular social trend of Chinese using online payment systems to make donations through social networks like Weibo and Wechat.
Many Chinese tech moguls are devoted to charity. Jack Ma donated RMB 14.5 billion (USD 2.3 billion) to charitable causes in 2014, making him the most philanthropic man in China for that year.
(Photos from Baidu)