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Boots on the ground—and donations online.

Chinese citizens are donating millions of dollars to Nepal earthquake relief

By Heather Timmons

China has long been ranked among the least charitable countries in the world, but the response to Nepal’s massive earthquake on April 25 has been much different—due in part to the ease of donating through the country’s popular online payment platforms.

As of noon in China on April 30, over 250,000 people had donated 19.7 million RMB ($3.2 million) to Nepal earthquake relief efforts using Tencent’s online payment system (link in Chinese):

Tencent’s “Nepal earthquake humanitarian aid” page.

About 58,000 citizens had also donated 1.6 million RMB ($268,000) through Alipay’s Wallet app to a partnership between the One Foundation and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation:

Alipay
Alipay wallet’s “Nepal earthquake humanitarian aid” option.

And almost 96,000 people had donated 3.1 million RMB ($500,000) through Alipay’s online website. Alibaba and Tencent (links in Chinese) also each pledged 2 million RMB ($323,000) in corporate funds to earthquake relief efforts.

The Chinese government—which was mocked overseas for its paltry aid to the Philippines after 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan—has already pledged over $3 million in goods and supplies and sent in dozens of red-uniformed search and rescue experts, as it jockeys with India to come to Nepal’s aid.

There are other, smaller efforts, too. The China Siyuan Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, part of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, for example, sent 20 members, “including professional rescuers, emergency doctors, and water purification engineers” to Nepal on April 27 (link in Chinese), carrying water purification devices.

China ranked 128th on the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index (pdf) last year, worse than all but six countries on the global list, although there was an increase in the percentage of people who said they had donated to charity, from 10% to 13%. Next time the rankings come out, aid to Nepal could help China put in a much better showing.

Zheping Huang contributed reporting.