The 2.62 million yuan (US$416,000) donated by the public via WeChat to Luo Yixiao, a 5-year-old girl with leukemia in Shenzhen, will go back to the donors, the social media platform said in an official announcement Thursday, drawing a full stop to a fermenting controversy on a fundraising campaign launched Sunday by Luo Er, the girl’s father, and Liu Xiafeng, founder of a Shenzhen-based online financing company.
“After negotiating with Tencent and the city’s civil affairs bureau, Luo Er and Liu decided to return all the money to people who donated it by sending money rewards to their WeChat posts,” the statement said.
The money included readers’ money rewards that were sent to Luo’s official WeChat account Nov. 30 and to one of the articles he posted Nov. 25, which totaled up to 2.52 million yuan, as well as readers’ money rewards totaling 101,110 yuan that were sent to Liu’s company’s official WeChat account.
The money will be returned to donors’ WeChat Wallet accounts within three days, according to the statement.
The decision came just hours after Luo and Liu made a joint statement Thursday, saying that they would donate the 2.67 million yuan that they had raised from the public to establish a special fund for helping children with leukemia.
Luo’s daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in September, was transferred to the ICU at Shenzhen Children’s Hospital on Nov. 23 after she got a severe infection.
Liu posted an article on his company’s official WeChat account Nov. 27 after rearranging several articles written by Luo about his daughter’s fight against leukemia.
Liu promised that his company would donate one yuan to the girl each time a reader reposted the article on WeChat, setting the ceiling for donations at 500,000 yuan, while readers could also donate money by sending a money reward to the post, which would go directly to Luo.
Meanwhile, a great number of people also donated money to Luo on his own official WeChat account after reading his articles about Yixiao.
Both Liu and Luo were in the limelight over the past few days as people voiced concerns about Luo’s integrity and the real purpose of the fundraising campaign. Many people turned against Luo and Liu as some criticisms described the campaign as mere marketing by Liu’s company.
The city’s civil affairs bureau launched an investigation into the fundraising campaign Wednesday. The bureau said in a statement on Thursday that it will supervise and urge Luo, Liu and WeChat to properly handle the donations.
“Individuals should raise donations through charity organizations with qualifications for public fundraising, and charity organizations should verify the accuracy and authenticity of fundraising projects,” reads the bureau’s statement.
The bureau said that the campaign has triggered heated public discussion and offered an opportunity for the public to learn about the Charity Law and give advice for the law’s implementation.
An obstetrician at Peking University Shenzhen Hospital, who identified himself as Miao but refused to disclose his full name, had also raised 114,820 yuan for Luo. The money was donated by Miao’s readers and friends after he posted an article about Luo on his official WeChat account.
Miao said that he would contact WeChat and Luo so the money is returned to donors as well.