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The People's Relief Administration of China

Year:1952 Issue:1

Column: Articles


Release Date:1952-01-01

Page: 47,48

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The natural calamities which afflicted the people of China for centuries were really largely man-made. They drew such heavy toll only because the people had lost all power to avert disasters and limit their effects. The cause of this situation was the long-standing robbery of the country by imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic monopoly. As a result, the working people of China lived under the constant threat of hunger and death.

Today the Chinese people have risen from their knees. They are rapidly rebuilding their economic life, social relationships and national defence. Relief and social welfare work in both town and country have ceased to be isolated and become a part of the general peaceful reconstruction of the country.

How It was Organized

The People's Relief Administration of China (PRAC) has the task of achieving this integration throughout China. It was set up after the All-China People's Relief Conference held in Peking in April 1950. The conference was called by the Chinese Liberated Areas Relief Administration (CLARA) which had previously operated in the old liberated areas of China. It was attended by representatives of the All-China Federation of Labour, the All-China Federation of Democratic Youth, the All-China Student Federation and the All-China Federation of Literature and Arts, relief and welfare organizations, the Chinese Red Cross and medical associations, Chinese returned from abroad, peasants, national minorities, industrialists and businessmen, religious workers, refugees and local and central government departments concerned with relief. At this meeting, the People's Relief Administration of China came into being.

In a sense, PRAC is the successor of CLARA. The older organization had collected material on Japanese atrocities and sent it abroad as proof of its accusations against the Japanese invaders. It had also reported, in its Chinese and English language publications, on the widespread relief work it was doing in the liberated areas. This brought in large contributions of cash and relief goods from peace-loving and progressive people in other parts of China and in many other countries: CLARA had distributed these contributions, which came chiefly through Soong Ching Ling (Mme. Sun Yat-sen), to refugees from flood and drought in the liberated areas and to the International Peace Hospitals. It had also negotiated with UNRRA for relief goods.

A People's Organization

The People's Relief Administration of China is not a government department. It is a people's organization. Its chairman is Soong Ching Ling, who had previously contributed so much to the welfare of the people of the liberated areas. She is concurrently chairman of the China Welfare Institute. The vice-chairmen of PRAC are Tung Pi-wu, former chairman of CLARA; Hsieh Chueh-tsai, a welfare worker with decades of experience; Li Teh-chuan, (Mme. Feng Yu-hsiang) vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Democratic Women and chairman of the Chinese Red Cross; and Wu Yao-tsung, a man long prominent in religious work and an outstanding leader of the Chinese YMCA. Led by this distinguished group, PRAC has been carrying on large scale relief and welfare work by mobilizing society to help care for those in distress and by assisting refugees and destitute people to earn a livelihood through production.

Productive employment has become the principal method of administering relief to the needy in both urban and rural areas of our country. All over China, institutions have been set up where refugees and city poor may learn a craft, enabling them to maintain themselves. In these places, former beggars, pickpockets, and prostitutes are also re-educated for production.

PRAC executive committee members sign papers governing the take-over of U.S.-subsidized welfare institutions after serious abuses had been discovered in them.

PRAC executive committee members sign papers governing the take-over of U.S.-subsidized welfare institutions after serious abuses had been discovered in them.

In 1949, there were floods in China, but we succeeded in overcoming them successfully. The People's Government sent supplies and money for the victims while people all over the country donated winter clothing and other necessities. Distribution of relief goods in the affected areas was entrusted to PRAC. The government, through PRAC and local authorities, helped the flood sufferers to organize and maintain themselves by fishing, chopping wood, weaving straw mats, preparing saltpetre, making vegetable oil, embroidering, spinning and weaving, so that everybody in the countryside was busy and earning something.

The same method was applied in administering relief to unemployed city workers. In the year May 1950 to May 1951, the number of unemployed workers in China decreased by two-thirds.

China is a country of 475,000,000 people with tremendous manpower, natural and financial resources. Our great potential, even at the present level of economy, may be illustrated by one example. In the autumn of 1950, PRAC began a campaign for winter clothes for flood refugees in north Anhwei. In three short months, over 6,800,000 winter outfits had been contributed by sympathetic people all over China, more than enough to clothe all the refugees warmly. This spirit of helping others in distress is a part of the Chinese character. Today it has full opportunity to develop.

China has many private welfare and relief organizations. Some are international, some are national, some are nation-wide and some are local. Some of these organizations exist only in name, and are no longer effective. But a number of private welfare and relief institutions have real capacity for useful work. Since it was set up in 1950, PRAC has been helping them improve their activities and apply them in an effective way.

Helping Others

The work of the People's Relief Administration of China now extends to sufferers from disasters and oppression outside our own borders. For example, British colonial authorities have been persecuting Chinese living in Malaya, deporting many to China after the loss of all their property. To meet this situation, PRAC and the Association of Returned Chinese from Overseas have jointly organized the Chinese People's Relief Committee for Refugees from Malaya. This committee is now very active.

PRAC workers teach public health through dances.

PRAC workers teach public health through dances.

Since the beginning of the war in Korea, tens of thousands of Koreans have lost home and livelihood. PRAC is carrying on a donation campaign to help them which has already produced large quantities of foodstuffs, blankets, cloth, clothing, cotton, shoes, stockings, medicine and such household necessities as needles and thread.

Taking Over U.S. "Charities"

Another job of PRAC has been to take over charities formerly subsidized by funds from the United States. To attain its own purposes, American imperialism directly or indirectly carried on various "charities" in China. Later, again for its own political purposes, it suddenly stopped all subsidies to these charities. Obviously, the aim of such manoeuvres was not really to further the welfare of the Chinese people, but rather to smooth the road to U.S. domination over China.

Following liberation, it was discovered that Chinese children had been subjected to mental and physical torture in imperialist-run orphanages. It was proved conclusively by material evidence that tens of thousands of children had died in these institutions, some of which showed a death rate of from 70 to over 90 per cent in their own registration books. Children who were so fortunate as to survive were also found to be in shocking condition.

Faced with such a situation, the Government Administration Council directed that U.S.-subsidized charities be taken over. A meeting was called in Peking to discuss procedures, which were then successfully applied in many cities. In place of the funds which stopped coming from America, PRAC has financed those institutions which have continued to operate, as well as guided them in the improvement of their work.

PRAC now has offices in all the big cities of China. PRAC believes that, with China's increasing prosperity, the number of people in need of relief will gradually decrease year by year. With this in mind, PRAC aims to turn gradually from relief to welfare work.

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