Red Cross Society of China to reopen Guo Meimei scandal

The national Red Cross Society will reopen an investigation into a scandal that rocked mainland charitable bodies two years ago.

Public confidence in the organisation has plunged, prompting a university student in Hong Kong to post an open letter earlier in the week asking first lady Peng Liyuan to take the reins of the society.

Guo Meimei (郭美美), "Mei" means "pretty", in 2011 has posted photos of herself with the sports cars, a pile of luxury Hermes handbags, sipping drinks in business class on a flight and showing off her luxury villa. She identified herself as "commercial general manager" at the Red Cross.

Acknowledging the deep public distrust in the Red Cross, Wang Yong, the spokesman for the society's oversight committee, said it would reopen an investigation into the Guo Meimei saga next month in a bid to repair the image of RCSC, The Beijing News reported.

However, Wang Zhenyao, who sits on oversight committee, said any investigation would be subject to a vote among committee members.

"We've said that we're going to have a new investigation, but what kind of measures will be adopted?" asked Wang Zhenyao, who is the director of the China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University.

We've said that we're going to have a new investigation, but what kind of measures will be adopted?

The letter, posted by a student at Chinese University via microblog this week, came with similar calls for Peng to take over the Red Cross in the wake of the highly publicised Guo saga that began in June 2011 but continues to haunt the organisation.

"I sincerely look to you to transform the present Red Cross system to be more transparent in order to re-establish the image of Chinese philanthropy," wrote the post-graduate student, who didn't give her full name. The 24-year-old Hubei native, who is studying e-commerce and logistics technologies at CUHK, said she came up with the idea of Peng for chairwoman after hearing that the One Foundation, an NGO founded by movie star Jet Li, drew more donations than any other government-backed NGO on Sunday - the day after a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Yaan , Sichuan .

One Foundation recorded 22.3 million yuan (HK$27.75 million) in donations in comparison with 140,000 yuan RCSC received on the first day. But Xinhua reported last night that the Red Cross had raised 236 million yuan for the disaster as of Tuesday. One Foundation received 129.2 million yuan by Tuesday, including 52 million it received via online platforms

Guo claimed on her microblog in 2011 to be the "commercial general manager" of the Red Cross in the mainland, while showing off luxury cars and designer handbags.

However, a probe in December 2011 found no connection between Guo and the Red Cross, but it shed light on rampant fund mismanagement.

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