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Donations Aid Guangdong Development
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South China's Guangdong Province has received 36 billion yuan (US$4.44 billion) worth of donations from overseas Chinese and compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao since China's opening-up in 1978.

That amount makes up 70 percent of the total given to the Chinese mainland in the past 27 years, Lu Weixiong, director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Guangdong provincial government, said at a work conference last week. Last year alone, donations to the province totalled 900 million yuan (US$111 million).

"The donations laid a foundation for the reform and opening-up, and have injected energy into Guangdong's development," Lu said.

"They are also our valuable spiritual assets, bearing the love of overseas Chinese for the motherland."

Overseas Chinese who claim their ancestry in Guangdong total more than 20 million people. They are scattered in 165 countries and regions and account for about 70 percent of all Chinese living overseas, according to official statistics.

In 1871, an overseas Chinese named Rong Hong donated 500 taels of silver (about 15.5 kilograms) to help set up the Zhenxian Academy for Classical Learning in Zhongshan, in Guangdong.

From the People's Republic of China's founding in 1949 to the end of last year, overseas Chinese and compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao have donated 40 billion yuan (US$4.93 billion) in money and articles to Guangdong, Lu said.

The donations, coming from more than 100,000 people from 100-plus countries and regions, have financed more than 30,000 charity projects, more than 24,000 projects of road, school, hospital, library and sports facilities, and have added to nearly 3,000 charity funds.

About 60 percent of the primary and middle schools and 13 percent of the hospitals in Guangdong, for example, have used those donations for either establishment or expansion.

The donations also helped build 4,000 bridges and 20,000 kilometres of roads in the province.

Hong Kong collector Yeung Wing-tak donated 200 ceramic pillows from various dynasties valued at HK$53 million (US$6.79 million) to the Museum of the Western Han (206 BC-AD 24) Tomb of the Nanyue King in Guangzhou.

In recent years, more donations from overseas have supported poor students and poverty relief projects in Guangdong. More than 90,000 students, for example, have benefited in the past five years.

The provincial government implemented a regulation last year on the supervision and management of charity projects funded by overseas Chinese.

(China Daily April 12, 2006)

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