Forging ties with China

An official of the ChineseRed Cross said he hopes to share ideas with theAmerican organization.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A visit here by two top officials of the Red Cross Society of China has laid the groundwork for a working relationship between the Mahoning Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Qujing Dao Chapter of the Chinese Red Cross.
Shengwen Tang, RCSC deputy secretary general, and Liqiong Wang of the RCSC's international cooperation division, attended the national American Red Cross convention in Phoenix, Ariz., last weekend. They then accepted an invitation to visit the Mahoning chapter, arriving here Monday. They were scheduled to leave Friday.
Communications were opened between the Mahoning Chapter and Qujing Dao Chapter, located in Shandong Province on the east coast of China, a year ago when Florence Wang, chairwoman of the Mahoning chapter's board of directors, was invited to China by RCSC to present seminars on fund raising and other topics. Wang, of Canfield, is originally from Taiwan.
Sharing ideas
Interviewed Wednesday at the Butler Institute of American Art, Tang said he is not in the United States looking for money.
Rather, he said, his purpose is to make connections with the American Red Cross in the hope that there can be a sharing of programs and ideas. He said he is particularly interested in techniques for fund raising and attracting volunteers, but also in how to organize specific projects.
For instance, he said, in some of China's poorer areas, there is a need to improve drinking water. The American Red Cross has expertise in such projects, he said.
Besides a tour of the Butler Institute, Liqiong Wang and Tang were guests of honor at a luncheon Wednesday at the Mahoning Red Cross Chapter in Boardman, and toured Youngstown State University, among other activities.
At the Butler, Liqiong Wang and Tang, as well as Florence Wang, were presented keys to the city by Mayor George McKelvey and other city officials.
Tang has been to the United States several times. But for Liqiong Wang, a former chemistry teacher, it was her first trip to America.
"Before I came here, I thought American people were very tough and independent. After a week, I find them warm and kind ... friendly," she said.
Differences in structure
There are pronounced differences between the Red Cross in China and the United States.
In China, Red Cross employee salaries are paid by the government, and certain projects are funded with government money, such as its Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry and National Bone Marrow Donors' Data Bank.
RCSC also operates hospitals, but does not collect blood.
Tang said the RCSC also gets money from gifts from individuals and businesses, and membership fees from its 20 million members.
In the United States, the Red Cross is a private nonprofit organization. A large portion of its mission is to collect and disburse blood and respond to disasters both natural and man-made.
Tang said the United States and China need more understanding of each other.
"Not a lot of people in China know about the United States, and not a lot of people here know about China. We need to increase exchanges," he said.
"The Chinese people really love peace. We hope for cooperation, especially with the Red Cross. That is why we come here," Tang said.

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