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Associated Press | Mar 13
China's National People's Congress sealed the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition by formally confirming Xi Jinping as China's new pre...
On July 1, Chinese President Hu Jintao gave a major speech to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Of course, Hu glossed over party-led tragedies like the Cultural Revolution. He said, "Looking back at China's development and progress over the past 90 years, we can only conclude that success in China hinges on the Party." Only in a brief portion did Hu warn about "four dangers" including rampant corruption and alienation from the people. But as celebrations were going on last week, a surprise story emerged in China's social media, threatening to spoil the Party. The issue? Corruption. It started with these photos. Expensive bags, a Maserati. All proudly owned by the 20-year-old Guo Meimei, who wrote on her public diary that she was a representative for the China Red Cross Society, a government-run charity not linked to the international federation of the Red Cross. Here is Guo on April 1 writing on her social media account: "My birthday present came early this year." She's standing next to the now infamous white Maserati. In a post Guo later deleted, she wrote: "My company has a cooperative deal with the Red Cross Society, and is called the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce for short." Guo claimed to be the company's business manager. Guo's story exploded on the eve of the Party's anniversary. China's Red Cross Society repeatedly denied any connection to Guo, but prying by curious Chinese internet users and by China's media had shown that there is in fact a link. It seems Guo's alleged boyfriend, 44-year-old Wang Jun, was the chairman of China Red Charity Company, which operates community donation banks across the country. Wang resigned as chairman after the scandal broke, but allegedly holds large stakes in related charity companies. And he's admitted to giving Guo lavish gifts, including the Maserati. This story has gotten very complicated. But at root is the responsibility of the China's Red Cross Society, which we now know licensed creation several years ago of a whole system of commercial entities to handle donations around the country. That suggests that Guo Meimei and Wang Jun may just be the tip of the iceberg. Guo is now cooperating with an investigation. The Red Cross Society has promised an audit of the company of which her boyfriend was chairman. In a blog, the Red Cross Society insists they have no "administrative" relationship to the businesses that run charity operations around the country. But for many Chinese that's simply not enough. They suspect more systemic corruption, maybe involving senior officials, some even think that Wang Jun is a fall guy, and Guo now has publicly denied that Wang Jun is her boyfriend, that complicates matters even more. The bottom line: this is a big big mess. It shows that exactly the wrong time just how right Hu Jintao was when he said last week the Party faces "four dangers." Corruption is a big, big problem. And this time it has touched on the rawest of nerves -- the act of doing good. In Hong Kong, for LinkAsia, I'm David Bandurski, and I'll see you next time.