Monday, May 19, 2008

Yao's 'stingy' China quake donation sparks debate (AFP)


Just to add a little gasoline to the fire...
On a day when Deng Xiaoping's widow gave her entire life savings to China's earthquake relief, it didn't pass unnoticed here that sporting icon Yao Ming was a little less generous with his own donation.

China's richest celebrity donated 500,000 yuan (70,000 dollars) to a relief fund, sparking fierce criticism on the Internet that it was too little from a basketball hero known for his charity work.

"A bit stingy isn't it?" one fan wrote.

The 7.9-magnitude quake in China's southwest Sichuan province likely killed some 50,000 people, according to government estimates, with the official toll already nearly 29,000 but countless thousands missing or believed buried under the rubble of devastated towns.

Yao, the 2.26-metre (seven-foot-six-inch) Houston Rockets centre, has been at the top of the Forbes magazine list of richest Chinese celebrities for the past five years.

Last year he earned some 55 million dollars from basketball and sponsorship activities.

His initial offer of 500,000 yuan triggered its own "earthquake of protest,' Maopu (www.mop.com), a top entertainment website, said.

Critics maintain that the donation was loose change to a man who makes more than that with one promotional photo shoot.

"If 500,000 dollars -- not to mention 500,000 yuan -- disappeared from his bank account, he wouldn't even notice," said one fan.

Internet criticism of Yao forced the basketball star to up his donation to 2,000,000 yuan later in the week, according to media reports.

Criticism of sporting heroes is unusual in China where they are often seen as national icons.

Yao is known for his charity work, raising more than a million dollars for under-privileged Chinese children last year and devoting time and energy toward helping stage the 2007 Special Olympics in his home city of Shanghai.

But some Chinese are not slow to attack Yao when it comes to money, accusing him of not giving enough of his enormous wealth back to his home country.

"He's been drinking milk and eating bread (like an American) for a while and he's forgotten where he comes," one posting said. "You are Chinese!"

Though supporters were outnumbered by critics, many people agreed with one commentator who said that contributions were a personal matter, and "whatever Yao gives is his business."

On Friday, China's state media reported that Zhuo Lin, 92-year-old widow of China's late leader Deng, had emptied her life savings totalling 100,000 yuan to give to earthquake victims.

It said she found it hard to sleep and eat after hearing of the tragedy.

Last year he earned some 55 million dollars from basketball and sponsorship activities. That's 55 million fucking dollars!!!1!!

Shit. Out of my meager funds I support 6 people and send most of them to school. It hurts, but it's necessary and this fucker can't cough up money for his homeland?

I've lost all respect for Yao. Fuck his athletic abilities.

Note: Headline links to source.

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