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Cablegate: Guangxi Snapshot: Local Volunteer Association Flourishing

VZCZCXRO7819
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0716/01 3640955
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300955Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1234
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0415
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0995
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0343
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0344
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0353
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0407
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0300
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0227
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0385
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0381

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000716

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, OES/PCI, DRL, AND EAP/PD
STATE ALSO PASS USTR FOR CHINA OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI ECON PGOV SCUL EAID PHUM CH
SUBJECT: Guangxi Snapshot: Local Volunteer Association Flourishing

REF: A) GUANGZHOU 678, B) GUANGZHOU 679

GUANGZHOU 00000716 001.2 OF 002


(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly. Not for release outside U.S. government channels. Not
for internet publication.

1. (SBU) Summary: Volunteer organizations formed with the support of
local government appear to be spreading to third-tier cities in
China as illustrated by the example of the Beihai Civil Volunteer
Association (BCVA) in coastal Guangxi. The organization has more
than 400 members and is engaged in projects that range from
education to healthcare to environmental protection. It receives
support from government, members, local corporate sponsors and even
some foreign donors. BCVA has gained traction on sensitive and
difficult issues through its non-confrontational, consultative and
collaborative approach. End Summary.

Volunteers Organize in Beihai
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) Volunteer organizations are sprouting in many places in
China, even third-tier cities like Beihai in the Guangxi Zhuang
Autonomous Region. The Beihai Civil Volunteer Association (BCVA)
was founded in 2004 after Beihai residents commented online that the
municipality should have a volunteer NGO like many big cities in
China have, according to Xu Haiou, the organization's chair. She
explained in a December 7 meeting with the Consul General that BCVA
had about 400 members who had volunteered more than 40,000 hours of
community service. The members have diverse backgrounds and include
lawyers, environment specialist, doctors, government officials,
scholars, students and entrepreneurs, she said.

A Variety of Goals - Education, Health, Environment
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (SBU) Xu, who works by day as a newspaper journalist for Nanguo
Zao Bao, explained that the organization had four main goals: to
spread love, to promote charity, to improve the members themselves
and to improve society. Within these broad goals, the organization
has pursued projects in areas that include education, healthcare and
environmental protection among others, according to Xu.

--Education - The association has raised over RMB 2 million (about
US$290,000) from overseas sources to assist more than 500 poor
students; 50 of whom have gone on to college. BCVA has also
collected over RMB 200,000 (about US$29,000) to help build five
primary schools.

--Health - With the grants from the UN, BCVA has advised more than
150 local sex workers on how to protect themselves from AIDS using
condoms. None of the sex workers has tested positive for HIV during
the three years of the program.

--Environment - The organization's first public activity was a beach
clean-up. It has since conducted other beach clean-ups as well as
programs to plant trees, protect endangered birds and preserve the
areas mangrove forests. BCVA sponsors performances, distributes
leaflets, hold art contests for students and conducts Internet
outreach to raise environmental awareness.

--In addition, BCVA members volunteer on weekends at care centers
for elderly residents in the outskirts of the city. After the
Sichuan earthquake last year, BCVA also raised RMB 31,000 (about
US$5,000) in donations within three days.

Help from Many Sources
----------------------

4. (SBU) According to Xu, BCVA gets substantial support from the
government as well as from officials who contribute as individuals.
It is formally registered as a non-profit NGO with the Beihai Civil
Affairs Bureau. The Beihai Health Bureau is its official
supervisory agency. Since its founding, BCVA has established
cooperative relationships with several government agencies, schools,
research institutes and media outlets, according to Xu. She
described BCVA's approach as non-confrontational, consultative and
collaborative, noting this method had helped achieve results even on
some very sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS and human trafficking.

GUANGZHOU 00000716 002.2 OF 002


She noted that BCVA's efforts had received positive publicity from
local, regional and national media. Several officials have
participated in volunteer activities, including a former mayor of
Beihai, Xu said.

5. (SBU) She explained that individual members provide some of the
organization's funding with each paying a RMB 30 membership fee that
supports the association's administrative costs. BCVA also raises
funds from the public and corporate sponsors, including donors from
Hong Kong and Macao. A well-known monk who chairs the Macao
Buddhist Association once donated RMB 300,000 (about US$44,000) for
one of the association's education programs. Many local companies,
such as the Shangri-la Hotel, also provide support for the
association's activities.

JACOBSEN

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