Guo Meimei Baby - the Infamous Charity Celebrity

Guo Meimei Baby. So much hatred pouring in the Net as she's flaunting a much enviable lifestyle. An unforgiven sin especially so because she claims herself as the general manager of the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce.

Known as the Maserati girl, Red Cross Chamber of Commerce general manager Guo Meimei flaunted her lavish lifestyle on her microblog, prompting intense debate on her relationship with the worldwide charitable organisation.

THE top two topics of discussion in China in the past week were tensions in the South China Sea and so-called Maserati girl Guo Meimei.

Twenty-year-old Guo, who identified herself as the general manager of the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce, had flaunted her lavish lifestyle posting on her microblog pictures of herself with Maserati cars and branded bags as well as her birthday party held in a villa.

The lifestyle of the so-called general manager at the Red Cross Society caught the attention of netizens who started questioning whether the charity organisation was being misused for personal gain.

The soap opera which resulted has posed question marks on the credibility of China’s Red Cross Society, one of the most trusted charity organisations in the country.

The Red Cross Society twice issued statements to quash the rumours stating that it did not have any subsidiary called Red Cross Chamber of Commerce nor an employee called Guo Meimei.

In her microblog postings, Guo detailed the cooperation between her company and the Red Cross Society, saying that her company helped its clients advertise on the charity organisation’s vehicles that provide medical care.

But days later, she deleted the postings and apologised for making up the identity.

This time, she said she was an actress and had no connection with the Red Cross Society.

In a special investigative report aired on China Central Television (CCTV), Guo said it was likely that her cousin had, without her knowledge, changed her profile as manager of the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce.

Despite denials by the Red Cross Society and Guo herself, the rumours continued as there appeared to be a discrepancy bet-ween what she had said and her denial.

“The wording ‘Red Cross Society’ is too sensitive.

“Everybody was saying that I used the organisation to make big bucks,” Guo said.

Netizen journalists investigating the episode discovered that although the Red Cross Society does not have a subsidiary called Red Cross Chamber of Commerce, nevertheless there is a China Red Cross Commercial System under the organisation.

They speculated that the latter could be the company that Guo said she was working for.

A netizen added that when Guo was developing her acting career in Shenzhen, she met Tianlue Cor-poration chairman Qiu Zhenliang who knew the Red Cross Society vice-president.

It was through Qiu that Guo established contact with the Red Cross Society.

Netizens found that both Tianlue and the Red Cross Society had collaborated in some advertisement projects which further reinforced what Guo had earlier said on her microblog.

Interviewed by CCTV, Qiu denied knowing Guo and added that the photo of Guo and a man who resembled him which was circulated on the Internet was not him.

“China Red Cross Commercial System might have reported back to the vice-president of the Red Cross Society about their business cooperation with my company.

“But I have not met the vice-president himself,” Qiu said.

Media reports said the Red Cross Society had lodged a police report stating that Guo had spread false news and caused public disorder.

The police have launched an investigation and Beijing police confirmed that Guo had come forward to help in investigations.

In a separate interview with CCTV, a spokesman of the Red Cross Society again denied any connection with Guo and welcomed public supervision of the charity organisation.

“We will do all we can to improve the transparency of our services and management. We are working with a company to develop an information distribution system which will eventually inform the public where their donations are channelled to,” the spokesman said.

The People’s Daily, China’s state-run newspaper, said in an editorial that the Guo Meimei saga was just the tipping point that triggered many people’s distrust and dissatisfaction towards charity organisations in the country.

The previous disclosure of the purchase of tents at whopping prices and a 10,000 yuan meal ticket had already damaged the public image of the Red Cross Society, the paper said.

In April, a netizen had posted on a microblogging portal an invoice for the Red Cross office in Shanghai’s Luwan district showing that the office spent 9,859 yuan (RM4,535) on a dinner for 17 people.

Investigations by Shanghai’s Red Cross division revealed that payment for the dinner came from administrative expenditure, not from funds donated by the public. But the cost of the dinner far exceeded the 150 yuan (RM69) per person set by the Red Cross.

The incident prompted the Red Cross Society to enhance transparency and set up a platform to release information and mend loopholes in its financial management system.

“The incident has seriously violated the organisation’s regulations and smeared the Red Cross’ image,” Xinhua agency quoted China Red Cross Society secretary-general Wang Rupeng as saying.

“Using donated funds on public affairs and spending administrative funds in excess of the set amount are strictly prohibited,” he added.

From the Star, "Guo ‘smears’ Red Cross image".

Netizens further probing into the operation of the Red Cross Society of China's Business System has prompted senior officials with the organization, which is under fire for alleged malpractice in charitable work, to issue an urgent statement yesterday, clarifying its operations.

During the ongoing trust crisis of the Red Cross Society triggered by Guo Meimei, a 20-year-old woman who has recently hit the headlines for boasting online about her luxurious lifestyle and claiming she works for the Red Cross Society of China, netizens cast doubt over the operation of the charity organization, suspecting misuse of donations and possible corruption.

Although Guo later confessed she had falsified her Red Cross Commerce title and the organization denied the existence of Red Cross Commerce, it did admit the operation of Red Cross Society of China's Business System, a legal organization under the society which was established in 2001 to help run charity projects. The society denied any relation between Guo and the business system.

But some netizens are questioning the society over Wangding Co, a consulting firm with only 100,000 yuan as registered capital, which had been involved in almost all the events held by the organization.

They found that the company's legal representative and shareholder, Wang Shumin, was also vice president of the business system, and the company's vice general manager, Li Qingyi, was deputy secretary general of the system.

Netizens are asking whether the business system was making money by raising donations and organizing charity works through "its own company."

Li responded in a statement published by news website Caing.com that Wang established the consulting company in 2001 to financially support the business system, which according to previous media reports didn't receive any funding from the Red Cross Society. Li wrote in the statement that as the system was facing critical problems of a lack of staff and funds, Wang established the consulting company in Beijing, aiming to solve the problems. He named the company Wangding after his pen name, Li said.

"The company was established to explore a new pattern for the sustainable development of charity work," said the statement. It said neither the charity system nor the company had any connection with Guo.

In response to netizens' doubts about whether the company worked with Red Cross for profits, Li said that after the cooperation started, the company actually suffered economic losses year by year due to devoting itself to charity work.

On Caing.com, there were calls for Li to publish all the income of the company and the business system as evidence to prove that the two bodies were not working together to make profits.

Now Beijing police have started an investigation into the case of Guo and China National Radio reported that Beijing police had required Guo to come to Beijing to face questioning.

Zi Xiangdong, spokesman for Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, confirmed the investigation on Thursday but refused to give more details.

From China.org.cn, "Red Cross responds to netizens".

Wang Jun quit after his girlfriend was accused of using charity money to fund a lavish lifestyle, state media said.

Guo Meimei, 20, claimed on her blog to be the "commerce general manager" of the Red Cross and boasted about her purchases of luxury cars and handbags.

The Red Cross has dismissed the claims as "pure fantasy" and said Ms Guo had no connection to the charity.

The charity's spokesman Martin Faller said the stories that first circulated online about the possible misuse of donated money had no substance.

But he said it was important for the Red Cross to use the current situation "to become even better", the state-run China Daily quoted him as saying.

Damaged reputation

Guo Meimei uploaded photographs of herself next to a luxury car on her blog last month, raising questions about how she was funding such a lavish lifestyle.

A few days later the 20-year-old's boyfriend, Mr Wang, resigned from his post at China Red Cross Bo'ai Asset Management Ltd, a commercial company that organises charity activities on behalf of the Society.

The head of the company, Weng Tao, blogged on Monday that Ms Guo was not a manager at Bo'ai or at the Red Cross, and that her luxury items had been gifts from her partner.

The revelation made Mr Wang unfit to serve on the board because the scandal had hurt the company's credibility, Mr Weng told the China Daily.

The Red Cross Society has made several announcements on its website distancing itself from Ms Guo since the story broke online and was picked up by the mainstream Chinese media.

The scandal raised questions about corruption in the Red Cross and other charities in China, including those run by the state.

The government places the Red Cross in the lead of charity drives during disasters, and it is one of the few charities generally allowed to solicit public donations.

An editorial in the China Daily said a lack of transparency in the use of charity donations has long been a matter of concern to the public.

It said in April, the Red Cross' Shanghai branch spent nearly 10,000 yuan (£960; $1,547) on a dinner for just 17 people, which caused widespread public anger when the bill was posted online.

"The charity needs to first conduct an investigation into the entire incident and then tell the public what its commercial organisation has done, whether it has made profits and how the profits, if any, have been used," the editorial said.

"Then it needs to think hard about how it can rebuild its credibility."

From BBC News, "Businessman quits amid China Red Cross scandal".

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