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Photo draws microbloggers’ ire [Global Times]
[January 16, 2014]

Photo draws microbloggers’ ire [Global Times]

(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Local authorities became the targets of Internet users' scorn Thursday after a photograph emerged of an apparently financially secure woman receiving charity funds from a government-subsidized organization.The photograph, which the Zhabei District People's Government posted on its microblog at 10 am, showed a group of officials from the Zhabei District Women's Federation visiting the unidentified woman's spacious, well-decorated living room, replete with a large video projection screen. The post said the women's group had been handing out cash to local women in "difficult circumstances" in honor of the upcoming lunar new year.The post, which had been forwarded more than 1,600 times by 9 pm Thursday, was met with derision from the online masses. Of the more than 600 comments, most were sarcastic jabs about the woman's "poverty." In one of the comments, the local neighborhood committee explained that the woman suffered from a serious form of cancer. In response, a microblogger commented that there must be other cancer patients who are more impoverished than the woman in the photo. The microblogger then asked why the women's group didn't help real poor people.The Zhabei District Women's Federation has a charity program that gives money every year to poor women suffering from certain illnesses, said an official surnamed Lü, the head of the press department at the sub-district office of the Tianmu Road West Community. Lü told the Global Times the woman in the photo was suffering from breast cancer, and much of the stuff in her apartment was purchased before she was diagnosed last year. She also pointed out that the woman bought the apartment in the early 1990s.Another official from the sub-district office, surnamed Dan, told the Global Times that the woman and her husband were both living on a roughly 2,000 yuan ($330) monthly pension. The women's federation gave her 500 yuan in cash, but it also gave gifts of 2,000 yuan to women from poorer families.Dan said the neighborhood committees helped identify eligible women for the charity program, but acknowledged that the federation didn't have standards about who should be chosen.The Tianmu Road West Community apologized on its microblog around 2:30 pm. "We are very sorry that the post has caused a misunderstanding. The resident didn't want to talk about her illness, so we described her as 'someone in difficult circumstances,'" its post said.

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