News24

China returns money after donation storm

2012-05-30 21:49

Hong Kong - Local officials in China's quake-hit Sichuan Province have returned a $258 000 donation made by Hong Kong to rebuild a school after it emerged that it had in fact been demolished to make way for luxury housing, the government revealed on Wednesday.

The money was meant to cover part of the cost of rebuilding the Mianyang Bauhinia Ethnic Secondary School which catered for 300 children from ethnic minorities. Some 70 000 people died in the 2008 earthquake.

However, it later since emerged that developers had demolished the school, just 18 months after it opened, to make way for luxury homes as part of a trade centre development costing a reported $772m dollars.

Chinese officials had initially claimed the school was being demolished because of structural defects caused by the tremor.

"I put forth our very reasonable position that the mainland [Chinese] authorities should return the HK$2m to the fund for the reconstruction of Sichuan. They have already done so," said Hong Kong Chief Secretary Stephen Lam following a visit to the region.

Hong Kong donated hundreds of millions of US dollars towards rebuilding work in Sichuan, drawing criticism from some legislators that the money was not being properly monitored and might be misspent.