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Voluntary services to be better regulated in China

Updated: Sep 10,2017 7:29 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Chen Yuqing, 63, practices basic English sentences every morning: “Welcome to Xiamen! I wish you a pleasant stay here.”

Chen, a resident of Xiamen in East China’s Fujian province, where the BRICS Summit was held, was one of the volunteers at the event.

“It was great for Xiamen to host the BRICS Summit,” she said in Chinese. “I felt very proud and wanted to make a contribution.”

In Xiamen, 2,000 volunteers took two months of training on etiquette, first aid, foreign languages, and cultural differences to handle guests from Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa.

The city has over 3,000 volunteer organizations and mor than 500,000 registered volunteers, one volunteer in every eight Xiamen residents.

Across the country, volunteers are increasingly conspicuous in areas, from big international events to everyday community service.

Data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs show China has over 300,000 voluntary organizations and the number of volunteers on the national information system has reached 50 million.

However, this amount to only about 4 percent of the population, far behind many other countries. To try to improve the situation, the State Council, China’s cabinet, issued a guideline on Sept 6.

The guideline, which will go into effect on Dec 1, states that volunteering must be “free, honest and legal” and that authorities should clarify their responsibilities. Volunteers should be well-informed about their activities and the risks involved. Government policy should be in line with social and economic conditions and an appropriate budget should be set aside.

Lu Xiangang, head of a charitable association in Northeast China’s Jilin province, said the regulation means more capital support to voluntary groups.

“Currently, many nongovernmental bodies organize voluntary services on their own,” Lu said.

Li Fang, a professor of law at Qingdao University, said professionalization is growing in voluntary services in China.

“Only professionals can ensure voluntary services better serve the public interest and solve social problems,” Li said.

The regulation encourages businesses and other organizations to employ candidates with voluntary service records on a preferential basis if they have the same professional qualifications as other candidates.

Dang Xiuyun, a professor at Minzu University of China, said government support can help the popularization of volunteering.

“More people need to engage in the cause,” said Dang.