China Taps Citizen Volunteers to Dole Quake Aid Since the devastating earthquake in southwestern China, hundreds of Chinese have volunteered to oversee the distribution of disaster relief funds and supplies. The aim is to prevent corrupt local officials from embezzling the funds. Observers say the experiment could increase public participation in anti-corruption efforts.
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China Taps Citizen Volunteers to Dole Quake Aid

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China Taps Citizen Volunteers to Dole Quake Aid

China Taps Citizen Volunteers to Dole Quake Aid

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Now to China, where the troubles in Sichuan Province won't let up. Two more aftershocks rattled the area yesterday, toppling more than 400,000 homes, and now whole villages have been evacuated for a fear of flooding. The quake's blocked rivers and created swollen lakes. Hundreds of thousands of people have now fled from the rising waters.

ROBERT SMITH, Host:

As NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Chengdu, it's a rare opportunity for the Chinese public to have a little power over the government.

ANTHONY KUHN: But at the Sichuan Provincial Communist Party headquarter, an experiment appears to be underway. A young teacher in a prim black dress sits down with a clerk, surname Jung(ph), who registers her as a volunteer.

KUHN: (Foreign language spoken)

KUHN: Authorities have not yet explained exactly how the volunteers will monitor the distribution of relief funds and materials or what the extent of their authority will be. Shi Xiao has her own ideas about this.

MONTAGNE: (Through translator) It would be best if we could oversee the distribution of funds from the central government down to the province, the disaster areas, and finally into the hands of the earthquake victims, to see that they get what they're supposed to.

KUHN: Another party clerk who gives only her surname, Liao(ph), says the details will come later.

MONTAGNE: (Chinese spoken)

KUHN: Even if they don't know exactly what they'll be doing, locals display the same sort of enthusiasm for this as they have about donating money and giving blood. Observers are cautiously optimistic that like the expanded role of the media and volunteers in earthquake relief efforts, this local experiment could herald wider citizen participation in politics. Again, clerk Liao.

MONTAGNE: (Chinese spoken)

KUHN: Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Chengdu.

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