A broker for Red Cross China facilitated the hoarding of COVID-19 supplies for Chinese government officials who then sold them for profit, and Red Cross China officials were involved, says a man who was roped into the scheme.
Jiang Pengyong, the General Manager of Shenzhen Jipingyong Tech Company, has come forward to reveal the scheme after being sued in China for contract fraud.
The allegation is the latest scandal to dog China’s Red Cross in recent years. In early February, the Canadian government donated 16 tonnes of protective equipment to China via Red Cross China. The move was heavily criticized by Conservative members of Parliament since Canada’s front line health workers were faced with protective equipment shortages once the pandemic arrived in Canada shortly after.
Canada’s donation, announced by Global Affairs on Feb. 9, was facilitated by the Canadian Red Cross, which provided the supplies to Red Cross China.
Around that time, Red Cross China had come under heavy public criticism as many hospitals in China remained without critical supplies despite huge volumes of donations.
Jiang, whose grandfather Jiang Qixian was deputy minister of agriculture in the Chinese regime from 1956 to 1970, told The Epoch Times recently that in January he was asked by Huang Zhongnan, a broker in China, to supply medical equipment related to COVID-19 to be donated to front line health workers and ordinary citizens in China. Jiang, whose e-commerce company operates in China’s Shenzhen, is based in South Korea.
Jiang said that once he had helped ship the supplies, he received notice that authorities in Suzhou city in China were suing him for committing contract fraud.
He said he was aware of the bad reputation of Red Cross China, which, unlike its international counterparts, is directly controlled by the Chinese regime. However, he agreed to help after Huang insisted.
“The epidemic was very severe … I felt that it was my duty to help my people,” he said.
However, Jiang said Huang later told him that he would sell the supplies to local branches of Red Cross China and other charities at a higher price for profit, and the profit would be shared between Huang, Jiang, and government officials. Jiang also alleges that officials at Red Cross China and other charities were also in on the deal, and would sell the medical supplies at profit.
The Epoch Times contacted each of the local health commissions Huang dealt with, as well as the Red Cross China branches that Jiang mentioned. They confirmed that Huang was their contact person but would not provide further details about their business dealings with him.
The Epoch Times also contacted the headquarters of Red Cross China, but didn’t hear back.
Jiang, who has decided to go public with his story, says his business bank accounts in China have been frozen. He thinks this is retaliation from local Red Cross China officials after he wasn’t able to complete some of the officials’ requests to purchase supplies.
In early February, a video of a man loading the trunk of the government vehicle he was driving with 3M masks from the Red Cross warehouse he was parked next to ignited outrage from Chinese citizens, as many hospital staff were short of protective supplies.
“No need to donate. Whatever you donate will be used to extend the lives of those with money and power,” wrote a Chinese social media user online at the time.
The local branch of Red Cross China in Wuhan acknowledged it had mismanaged the distribution of donated supplies in early February.
China’s state-owned People’s Daily reported on Feb. 3 that in one case, Red Cross China in Hubei only shipped 3,000 masks to a public hospital which was “a major battleground” with the virus, while 36,000 masks went to two private hospitals. The report said the local Red Cross China branch claimed it shipped the items to the private hospitals as that’s what the donors wished, but “further inspection has uncovered suspected ties with private hospitals.”
Meanwhile, many health professionals in Hubei took to social media in February to ask for help to get protective equipment, prompting people to post questions and concerns online about where their donations had gone.
According to a report by Jing Daily in February, Chinese netizens reported analyzing data on local Red Cross China websites, reporting that only close to 20 percent of N95 masks were sent to hospitals in Wuhan, while the rest were distributed to different government agencies.
Canada sent the first shipments of its 16 tonnes of protective equipment to China starting on Feb. 4. In an email to The Epoch Times, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said the donation was made in response to a call by the World Health Organization.
“Global Affairs Canada takes the risk and allegations of fraud very seriously. Respect for taxpayers’ money is a top priority,” Angela Savard said in an email.
“This is why Canada facilitated sending equipment through the Canadian Red Cross to the Red Cross Society of China in response to the WHO’s call.”
Savard said as part of its due diligence, the Canadian Red Cross engages in discussions with Red Cross China before sending the equipment to “assess and discuss need, including confirming distribution plans.”
Global Affairs Canada declined to comment on whether any evaluation is done on whether the donated supplies are received by the intended users, and directed further questions to the Canadian Red Cross.
Leianne Musselman, director of communications with the Canadian Red Cross, said the organization was asked by the Canadian government to assist with the procurement and shipment of the protective equipment to China “for distribution by the government of China.”
She added that since the items were “from the government of Canada to the government of China,” and not a donation to the Canadian Red Cross, further questions related to the PPE shipment should be addressed to the Canadian government.
The donation of the equipment in this case was an exception, as in general the Canadian Red Cross doesn’t accept in-kind donations.
“Where possible, the Red Cross looks to source items that are needed directly near the areas that are impacted, and provides assistance to people in a way where they can determine what they require to best meet their needs,” Musselman said.
One of the recent incidents that caused major damage to the reputation of Red Cross China was when a young woman named Guo Meimei posted photos of herself online posing with luxury vehicles and declaring that she holds a senior title with the China Red Cross. The incident crystalized the idea for the Chinese public that similar to other governmental organizations, Red Cross China is controlled by corrupt officials who are out to enrich themselves.
It was later reported that Guo was the mistress of Wang Jun, an official with the China Red Cross. A year after the incident, there was a 25 percent drop in donations to Red Cross China.
Red Cross China was also criticized by donors in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, after it admitted years later that it redirected the more than 80 million yuan (C$15 milloin) donated by artists to build an art school to other projects. The episode is part of a bigger scandal in charitable donations following the deadly earthquake that claimed 90,000 lives.
According to a 2009 report by Tsinghua University researchers, 80 percent of charitable donations for the earthquake were redirected to the government as “extra revenue.”
With reporting by Nicole Hao