Summary from the Shanghaiist:
Last Friday, a microblogger posted a receipt from a lunch held for 17 people by the Luwan Shanghai Red Cross totaling 9,859RMB (about $1,500.) Now dubbed the “million dollar meal”, the revelation has enraged the public and led to calls for a boycott and an audit of all expenditures made by the organization.
Tian Yongbo, the Shanghai Red Cross’ former publicity officer, defended the cost in an interview with the state-run Global Times. He said the money spent on the meal came from government funding, not donations:
“Our annual budget from the government is too much to be used up, so why would we use donations?”
The Shanghai Red Cross’s money comes from two sources: state-allocated taxpayer money, and donations. Because the Chinese regime does not allow fundraising organizations or NGOs to be independent, it controls the Shanghai Red Cross, and also provides a portion of its budget. But the Red Cross also raises donations from the public for specific causes; for example, it raised tens of millions of dollars for Sichuan earthquake relief in 2008.
Wherever the money for the $1,500 meal came from, many Chinese netizens are angry. Here are some comments from Sina Microblog (Weibo):
passerbynet: The money the Red Cross raises comes from society, so their accounting should be public. If we are to have government transparency, it should start from here.
林晨1003: Faint. I guess my previous donations were for nothing but their astronomically expensive meals. I can’t afford this kind of meal myself, yet I donated money to let you eat like this. What kind of era [do we live in]? I think today’s Communist Party is even worse than yesterday’s Nationalist Party.
xiuli670: The right checks and balances that are supposed to be in place seem to have been missing. It’s the responsibility of news media to expose these kinds of adverse events before the eyes of the public…
郭霆-创业者: Ever since the government swallowed up my donation for the [2008 Sichuan] earthquake, I’ve never donated to any government-run charities. Not a penny!
幸福乐宜: Have always been suspicious of where donations end up. Now it’s truly clear that it’s being used to feed a bunch of bastards.