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China Developing Law to Recognize, Boost Volunteerism
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China is drafting a law to clearly define the rights and obligations of volunteers in a move to encourage more people to donate their time and skills, said an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Tuesday or the world's 21st International Volunteer Day.

The draft law on the promotion of charity undertakings is expected to include one chapter on volunteer service that will stipulate the principles of the service, establish a volunteer registration system, set qualifications, rights and obligations of volunteers and volunteer organizations.

"Volunteer service not only requires moral regulation, but legal criteria too," said Tang Jinsu, an official in charge of community construction work with the ministry.

Since initiating community volunteer service in 1989, China has nearly 20 million registered volunteers and 120,000 community volunteer centers, official statistics show.

Compared with developed countries, where 30 to 40 percent of their citizens have volunteer service records, China's volunteer service participation rate is only three percent.

The government is working to raise the rate to eight percent in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.

According to the Beijing Olympic Games organizers, China needs 100,000 volunteers for the Olympic Games and the ensuing paralytic Games.

Lack of regulations to safeguard volunteers' rights and interests has lead to low rates of participation, said Tang Jinsu.

In June this year, a community volunteer registration system was activated, offering certificates to registered volunteers around the country.

The Communist Youth League Central Committee recently launched a campaign to recruit registered volunteers and promised to train them at community volunteer centers.

Volunteerism in China is driven by large government-supported campaigns and numerous grass-roots organizations. The volunteer community service is officially defined to include responsibilities ranging from aiding the poor, helping the elderly and handicapped, conducting environmental protection activities to delivering classes and programs.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2006)

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