World

Maseratis and the Chinese Red Cross

A blogger’s posts lend credence to the belief the Chinese Red Cross is using donation money to pamper executives
Alex Ballingall
TO GO WITH China-charity-Internet-RedCross,FOCUS by Marianne Barriaux This photo posted on the Internet in Beijing on July 5, 2011 shows "Guo Meimei Baby", as she calls herself and claiming to be the general manager of a firm called "Red Cross Commerce", driving one of her many cars in one of the photos. The young Chinese woman who flaunted her wealth online and appeared to have links with the nation’s Red Cross has sparked huge controversy and stoked widespread public suspicion over how donations are used, as the scandal erupted when a web user uncovered the woman’s account on Twitter-like Sina Weibo, full of images displaying her opulent lifestyle -- posing in front of a Maserati and sipping a drink in business class on a plane. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH China-charity-Internet-RedCro
AFP/Getty Images

A scandal involving a 20-year-old woman, fancy cars, luxurious handbags and the Chinese equivalent of Twitter has fuelled a groundswell of disquiet regarding the Red Cross Society of China. Guo Meimei Baby, as she’s called on the microblogging site Weibo, branded herself as a “commercial general manager” for the charity organization. Controversy sprang up after she posted a series of flashy photos that lent credence to the belief among an already suspicious public that the Chinese Red Cross had been using donation money to lavish executives with fancy toys. Among Guo’s photos were pictures of herself leaning on the hood of a white Maserati she labelled “little horse,” and an orange Lamborghini called “little bull.” She also sent out images of Hermès handbags and of herself enjoying fruity drinks in business class on an airplane.

A flurry of microblog posts has since appeared, lambasting both the Red Cross and Guo. At one point, the online furor garnered 600,000 posts a day on Weibo. Although both Guo and the Red Cross deny any affiliation, the latter issued a statement on July 1 saying it would allow auditors to scour its financial records for any wrongdoing.