Chinese civil society helps to provide relief in the aftermath of the Yibin earthquake

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At 22:55 on June 17, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Changning County near Yibin, a city in Sichuan province, China. By June 18 the earthquake had killed 13 people, with about 200 injured.

According to the information from the news office of the People’s Government of Yibin, after the earthquake happened the Finance Department quickly launched a financial emergency plan and opened a “green channel” to allocate funds. At 11:30 on June 18, the first emergency relief fund of 10 million yuan was allocated to the disaster-affected areas for emergency rescue and relief. At the same time, many civil society organizations also actively participated in the disaster relief operations.

Once the earthquake occurred, the Red Cross Society of China immediately contacted and coordinated with the Red Cross Society of Sichuan province, arranging the rescue and relief operations. According to instructions by the headquarters, the Luzhou Red Cross mountain rescue team and the Sichuan Red Cross Society’s rescue team headed to the affected areas for rescue operations, while the Yibin Red Cross Society organized relief teams carrying family relief packs and relief tents to Changning County. Up to now 100 relief tents, 2000 family relief packs, 2000 quilts, 1000 outdoor jackets, and other supplies have been sent to the affected areas.

The One Foundation also actively responded to the disaster. The foundation’s rescue team started preparing right on the night of the earthquake. At 23:31, the prepared disaster relief supplies in the Weining, Chuanbei, Chuannan, and Chengdu warehouses were all checked up and ready for transportation. At 8:20 on June 18, 100 tents, 385 sleeping bags, 200 relief packages, and 200 One Foundation helping bags were sent to Yibin from the Chengdu warehouse. The One Foundation also cooperated with Coca-Cola to start a “24-hours clean water” program, sending 72000 bottles of water to the affected areas.

Meanwhile, doubts were cast regarding some of the fundraising programs put in place for the earthquake. An editorial by the Charity Times published on June 18 criticized certain foundations for staring their fundraising campaigns without effective permits. As the report clarifies, after the earthquake occurred certain charitable foundations very quickly initiated public fundraising drives on online platforms. According to the Measures for the Administration of Public Donations by Charitable Organizations, organizations should apply for permits ten days before the fundraising begins, or within ten days of the fundraising starting if it is related to major natural disasters.

However the Charity Times report discloses that the organizations involved, including the Red Cross Society and the One Foundation, registered using permits from other similar programs in the past as a way to get round the issue. The argument that the time was too short for the organizations to apply for new permits is also rejected. The Amity Foundation, which initiated the “Emergency Relief for Yibin Earthquake” on the Ant Financial Charity Platform on June 18 with the proper permit, is presented as proof of this. The foundation was apparently able to apply for a permit and start its fundraising within a single day.