The Benefits of China’s Earthquake

Individual volunteers, private philanthropy and charities in China are not waiting for government approval to help earthquake victims in Sichuan province, reports today’s New York Times and yesterday’s Washington Post, which reports an “unprecedented outpouring of charity” totalling $1.3 billion so far, with 85 percent raised within China.

The Times notes that the public response “shows how rising wealth, cellphones, text messaging and mass transportation now make it much harder for the authorities to control popular reaction to a major event. The public’s spontaneous rush to volunteer is a piece of the same defiance in which media outlets collectively defied an initial ban by the party’s Propaganda Department on firsthand coverage of the quake.”

Last December Capital Research Center published Tang Sin Tung’s report, “Nonprofits in China: Blessing or Vexation?,” which reported on the Communist Chinese government’s ambivalent attitude toward private nonprofits and charitable action. The earthquake seems to have had the unintended consequence of strengthening Chinese civil society and nonprofit sector.

No word yet on Pat Robertson’s analysis of the earthquake’s meaning.

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