China: Relief tents embezzled, while stoppers got arrested

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“Disaster relief” is the mark stamped on these tents. But weirdly, they did not show up at any refugee camp, where thousands of homeless were still tortured by disturbing rains and wind, thirsty for a tent. Instead, the tents appeared in up-scale communities in uptown Chengdu.

On 21st, aftershock alert was officially released, which drove hordes of residents out of their houses to sleep on streets. In the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, streets were filled up with various tents, while among them the camps exclusively for relief use were detected.

According to regulations, such tents should not be used by anyone other than refugees and at any place other than relief sites.

They showed up at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and by no means accommodated any refugees, at a time when the whole country is struggling to house roughly more than 3 million homeless, who were yearning for these shelters and also a good sleep after facing so much death and suffering.

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That's how the refugees live.

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While the tent from Kuwait was found in……somewhere unsuited
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The mark on tent

Chengdu as a rescue-and–relief pivot has huge relief material passed on through every day.

Indignant citizens could no longer sit calm and therefore questioned against the potential embezzlement. However, this finally led to a conflict between police and crowd on the night of 21st, May.

The beginning—– An all-out search by cyber-activists

It started on 10am, 21st, with a post named <Live: all-search ghost-hunting, who are living in relief tents?> of user Anxin(安心) at the net forum Chengdu All-search.The posters kept updating the thread, with pictures adding on. As the original post has been deleted, you may also see it here.

Its prologue stated:

近日,论坛里不断出现救灾专用篷的身影,不过,它们出现的地点不是灾区,不是救援站,而是在各大小区。希望有关部门严查并给大家一个解释,现在伊藤一个双 人帐篷能卖到700,最近灾区连连降雨,灾民严重需要帐篷,为什么在这种情况下,救灾专用帐篷还会出现在小区里?难道这些安安稳稳住在小区里的人比灾民们 更加需要吗?

Recently, in this forum, numerous pictures of relief tents were found. However, neither disaster areas nor aid sites were where they were spotted, but in residential communities instead. We hope any official agency could give an explanation. Now a single Yiteng tent sells for 700RMB; and also, it was raining ceaselessly at the quake-rocked areas, leaving refugees craving for tents. Why did these relief tents still show up here? Do the residents there need it more than those refugees?

After calling upon all netizens to unite for the “ghost-hunting”, the thread went on:


11am, we’ll start out to these places (where relief tents were found) and catch these ugliest people. Hope every one of you could spread it by QQ groups and take a heed of out action!!! We’ll get to the bottom of the matter, report to the police and make it open on the internet!!

Their first battlefield was a community called Shang-dong Sunshine.

上午11点50分,最新消息:我们的第一记者已经来到了上东阳光小区,正准备进入采访,抓拍下这些”坏人”的嘴脸。根据网友线报,这次捉鬼行动,由于 有人通风报信,小区内已经有一顶抗震救灾专用帐篷撤离了,而另外一顶还在!(但是主人却不在)全搜索捉鬼行动组,帐篷到底哪里来的,是买的,还是挪用的救灾物资?

11:50 am, latest news: our first reporters have been in the community, ready to work, taking pictures of these “bad men”. According to the clue from netizens, someone has blown the gab so that one tent has disappeared, while another remained… (The owner was not found). Where are they from? Bought? Embezzled?

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12点48分,这个时候,许多小区内愤怒的业主站了出来,大家围住这个帐篷,在物管方的配合下,对这个救灾专用帐篷进行了拆除,并立即将其交到红十字会,送往灾 区第一线!为上东阳光的业主叫好,你们是好样的!!!

12:48 am, presently, many furious residents have stood out surrounding the camp. With the help of community managers, the for-relief tent was dismantled, and delivered to the Red-Cross and the frontline! Acclaim for the residents of Shangdong Sunshine!! You are so great!!!

During the action in Shangdong Sunshine, the activists noticed that the tent seemed to be used.

Their 2nd battlefield, Vanke City Garden community

Again there, no owner of the tent has been found.

然后去了万科城市花园,我们去万科城市花园的时候,已经看不到那顶”救灾帐篷”,据小区里热心人讲,在20日晚帐篷主人把帐篷搭起来的时候,周围人看 着就很愤怒,觉得救灾用的帐篷怎么能拿来私用呢,还有热心的住户拍了照片,现在上传的部分万科城花的照片就是业主所拍。可能是邻居的”鄙视”让他们受不了 了,所以当晚他们就把这顶帐篷拆除了。

When we arrived at the community, the tent has gone. According to a witness there, on the last night the tent has been propped up. But the surrounding people were provoked. How could the relief tents be of private use? Some people even took the pictures.(see below). Maybe the contempt of the crowd overwhelmed the owner, so that they removed it at the night.

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Tent in Vanke community

Later, report from another community, Gingko Forest was uploaded.

“救灾”帐篷就搭在小区头,我们去的时候看到有一个年轻女子和一中年妇女正在帐篷中,但当我们问及”救灾帐篷”一事的 时候,这二位都说不是主人,当我们试图问到帐篷来源的时候,这二位都闭口不言,后来回来的一个小姑娘对我们的问题也基本上不做正面的回复。不过照片是拍到 了,大家可以看哈(因为图片中一小姑娘是未成年人,所以对其图片做了模糊处理)。

The tent was erected at the side of the community. We saw a young girl with another middle-aged woman inside. But the two denied them as the owners when we questioned the source of the tent, keeping silent. Later another girl returned, while gave no response either. We took the picture, but as she was under age, the picture was blurred.

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And finally, they reported that in a few shops the relief tents were found on sale, 1300RMB/ each. Furthermore, they have reported to the rescue-relief headquarter at the district. The officials had promised to take action.

This post gained it pages of replies, particularly after that it was copied to the more influential The embezzlement hurt not only volunteers but all warm-hearted people as well, who found their donation and goodness stained.

Some other pictures.

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A wanted poster
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Beautiful background, inopportune tents

The conflict at night

With the all-search group’s appeal, it could be reckoned that a lot of touched netizens indeed took action, which indirectly led to what happened at the night of 21st.

The following report was from Southern Metropolis Daily, which featured the incident on 25th.
Its description, in my personal opinion, is relatively objective among the mainstream paper media.


The controversial tent was propped up on the evenfall of 20th, at the Bason Road. The owner was a resident of the nearby community, who surnamed Wei. A neighbor said though as soon as the tent was erected people came to urge him not, Wei refused.

On 21st, probably inspired by the thread aforementioned, some people acted, though their deed not recorded on the post.


Some citizens said, on 21st, afternoon, a middle-aged man played Mahjong with several women inside, when someone questioned where the tent was from. The man stated, he “took the tent because of connection”. Also, answering the questions of a few students, the woman alleged, “I’ll only tell if the mayor came to ask.”

The tent stood for the entire day.At night, when more and more furious citizens came around, denouncing the owner’s deed, they burst into a conflict with the coming police.

The newspaper then quoted the official police report of the conflict.

21日下午,东坡派出所一副所, 长带队,检查辖区内是否有人使用“抗震救灾”帐篷。在街头发现该帐篷后,民警要求帐篷搭建者魏某将其拆除。当地街道办事处的工作人员试图拆除帐篷时,围观的100多人不让,要求交出搭帐篷的人并通知媒体。

(According to the official report) On the afternoon of 21st, an officer took his team to check whether any one was using disaster-relief tents. Soon Wei’s tent was found, and he was required to have it dismantled. When the crew of the street office was trying to implement, the 100 people around refused, requiring the police to hand over the owner and inform the media.


A female police was a focus.

随后,10名防暴警察和派出所的其他增援民警赶到。警方称,东坡派出所一陈姓女警赶到后,群众针对她进行攻击。警方材料称,当时有人称帐篷是该女 警搭建的,下午她在帐篷内喝酒、打麻将。民警试图将该女警护离现场时,遭到了围攻。

Later 10 riot police and reinforcement hurried to the spot. The police said a policewoman surnamed Chen was besieged, under attack of the crowd. Some claimed it was exactly Chen that propped up the tent, and drank and played Mahjong in the afternoon. When the police tried to escort Chen out, they were under siege again.

In fear of being spotted, the mark was blotted.


At 11pm, over 500 people have crowded at there. 11:30, another 60 police were dispatched, to rescue the surrounded out.

Later the policewoman denied she has anything to do with the tent.

Now let’s witness the incident in the point of view of a netizen, an account appeared at, which was later deleted. But this site has copied the article.

事情开始是由于贝森路出现救灾帐篷,群众愤怒.然后其中一位群众质问在旁边的警察,警号为006677 的女警说:”关你们屁事!” 并打手打了情绪激动的问话者.后来这个女警被其3个穿警服,3个便衣的保护下想离开现场,但是被几百名群众围住,群众高喊:”道歉!道歉!”

It started when on Bason Road people furiously found a relief tent. One of the crowd questioned a policewoman with police No.006677, who rebuked “what the hell has it to do with you!”. She also hit the stirred questioner.
Later three uniformed and three plainclothesmen tried to protect her out. But hundreds of people blocked them in, exclaiming “apologize, apologize!”


During the process, a few angry people grappled with the police.



此事件女主角从开始到后来一直被身边的男警察保护着,但是她一直不说话,低头不敢看任何愤 怒的群众.她一直企图用手袋遮住胸前的警号,但是为了看到她的警号,群众情绪相当激动.中途有一队大概6个人的警察赶来查看情况,当他们一走进来马上就无法再走出去.其间,和群众发生了比较明显的打斗,然而,在面对数百倍于自己的群众们,这几个警察以其中一个被打晕而收场

The policewoman was always protected by her companies. But she remained silent, head low. She was always trying to cover up her police code. The crowd was rather provoked, trying hard to see her code. A 6-men team rushed here to check what was happening, but as soon as they came in, they found no way out.
During the course, there was obvious melee. But facing the crowd hundreds of times larger than them, one of the police was hit unconscious.


Later she witness recorded the police released tear gas.

我明显感觉到鼻子的不适和眼睛不停的被刺激的气味弄的泪 流满面

I can evidently feel my nose and eyes uncomfortable, tears over all the face.


The witness then told his girlfriend a crackdown was coming.


30-40 police were concentrated…..they rushed into the crowd, hit the crowd brutally. 5,6 police against one, kicking at the heads. Some of women were struck too.

The night of tumult and uproar finally ended in a dispersal and crackdown. Pictures and video clip on this incident seemed to have been uploaded to some websites later.

Next morning, the punishment result came out.


7 got criminal internment of 30 days, 1 security internment 15 days, 3 warned, 1 residential surveillance.

it's notable that one of the 7 who got 30-day internment was due to his uploading the video to the internet. He is accused of slander.


  • Knights

    It’s good the citizens keep an eye on embezzlements by local officials.

  • Knights

    Whoever used donations illegally should be punished severely by PRC.

  • how does this effect your country

  • Napoleon

    Jordan asked: how does this effect your country

    My answer, as an observer: Look pal, there are over 60 people gathered to put a wrong situation right. That to me is democracy in action, it is rather chaotic and borders on lawlessness, but better that than apathetic crowds. Will corruption in China ever improve, and despotism ever disappear, you may ask? My answer is: look at how long it took Britain from Magna Carta to achieve its relatively responsible public service today: I would say about 800 years. And how long did the Terror and despotic french rulers like my namesake finally embrace the virtues of humanism? I say the French are still not there yet!

    So China is not doomed, as long as more citizens with a sense of basic right and wrong turn up whenever corruption and despotism rear its ugly side (which is very common, alas, in China today), then China has hope.

    Western press should distinguish between corrupted chinese public officials and ineffective political leaders from the Chinese people, the way Angela Merkel or Sakarzy or Pelosi does, understand that your domestic politics should be enlightened enough to separate the 2 groups and you might be more effective in helping China towards the road to humanism!

  • “They showed up at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and by no means accommodated any refugees, at a time when the whole country is struggling to house roughly more than 3 million homeless, who were yearning for these shelters and also a good sleep after facing so much death and suffering.”

    That’s what I meant when I wrote in blog, “Compare that solidarity manifested by people from within and without the places affected by disasters to the looting that sometimes takes place in disaster-hit areas. Compare that solidarity to the rivalries that led to WWI and WWII. Compare the bloodshed of those wars to the spirit that led to the European Union. Definitely, Man is capable of doing good just as he is capable of doing evil.

    “And a soul and Him who perfected it, And inspired it ( with conscience of ) what is wrong for it and ( what is ) right for it . He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow , And he is indeed a failure who stunteth it .” Ash-Shams: 7-10″

  • Knights

    There are lots of positive things surrounding the earthquake such as the continuous rescue efforts, touching stories of civilians extending a hand to the survivors etc.

    When we are dealing with millions and millions of human beings, there’s always corruption that could occur with any country.

  • Hello Knights
    So that’s when people should begin to use their eyes to watch, right?
    群众的眼睛是雪亮的,as the saying goes

  • Knights

    “So that’s when people should begin to use their eyes to watch, right?”

    Absolutely True, all citizens of China should keep an eye out on PRC and the west’s invasion such as stirring unrest in tibet.

  • R. Elgin

    Hummm, I think you will be watching everyone then “knights”. Corruption may be everywhere but few would consider theirs a virtue and others a vice.

  • actually, all Chinese through out the world will be watching. to make sure that corrupt officials and foreign gov’t,including politicians( engaged in overt and covert assistance of seperatist and anti-cpc groups, just for the sake of their own country’s guilty conscience), will be exposed and punish. of course, you can only punish the latter with public led ‘sanction’, whatever form it may be.

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