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Poverty Alleviation and Education Assistance: Noble Social Responsibilities of Bank of China


Poverty alleviation: millions of people get out of poverty are on their way to a well-off and happy life;

Education assistance: more than 700,000 children have realized their dream of going to college;

Donations: disaster-stricken people feel warmth from time to time, being inspired to rebuild their home;


Bank of China has been actively supporting public welfare undertakings and participating in charity activities. In the recent years, while deepening internal reform and speeding up development, Bank of China Limited has shouldered the historical mission of a large commercial bank and actively fulfilled its social responsibilities, making great contributions to building a socialist harmonious society!

Poverty alleviation in designated areas: more and more people in difficulty benefiting from development

It is an arid land with harsh natural environment and tough production and living conditions. By now, there are still 510,000 poverty-stricken people facing the greatest problem of drinking water for man and livestock. People there had to either walk over five kilometers to carry water or to drink cellar water. Many of them even could not afford to build a cellar. Several young men from Beijing drank the cellar water for the first time and then suffered from diarrhea for days...

In September 2002, under the unified arrangement of the State Council, Bank of China Head Office was in charge of poverty alleviation in the Northern Four Counties (namely Yongshou, Changwu, Xunyi and Chunhua) of Xianyang in Shaanxi Province. An investigation report by the first poverty alleviation team delegated to these areas weighed heavily on Xiao Gang, who was Bank of China President at that time. He immediately ordered that: poverty alleviation should be strengthened to make changes in people's life there. Drinking water project need to be given priority among the most severe problems to handle.

A hard campaign against poverty was launched in the Northern Four Counties. With a timely donation of RMB 1.13 million by Bank of China, five bank officials for poverty alleviation started their hard work together with local people, sticking to the battle against poverty. Even when some of them whose wife got a broken bone or whose mother was in hospital, they had no spare time to take care of the family members in Beijing. One of the officials, while having intravenous drip in hospital near a Chinese new year, could not stop concerning about the poor people. he pulled out the needle to send them food and money in the heavy snow.

In October 2003, four high-level drinking water projects for people and livestock were completed, fulfilling the dream of common people in the Northern Four Counties who had suffered from dirty water for generations. The poverty alleviation and drinking water projects of Bank of China addressed the drinking water problem of the 11,000 local people and 3,100 large animals once and for all.

The drinking water project was just one of the poverty alleviation projects conducted by Bank of China for the poverty-stricken people in the Northern Four Counties. In fact, over the five years since 2002, Bank of China Head Office has granted more than RMB 10 million in special funds to the Northern Four Counties, with 19 employees delegated to serve in the area, launching 41 poverty alleviation projects, building 15 schools, helping 205 dropouts and completing construction of seven rural roads totaling 11 kilometers long and one bridge. Moreover, the bank also solved the traveling problem of more than 10,000 people in nine villages and their transportation problem of agricultural products; helped relocate 366 poor people of 86 households from four villages. Traffic, drinking water, education, healthcare and others problems having troubled local people for generations are being solved gradually.

"Having been working as a teacher for 34 years in four schools from thatch cottages to clay houses, I never dreamed that I could give lessons to children in the new building. We shall repay our friends of Bank of China with excellent teaching quality," said He Xianfeng emotively, the old school master of Bank of China Hope School in Mafang Town, Yongshou County.

Also feeling thankful for Bank of China are the 2.86 million people of the western Fujian Province, who are speeding up their pace towards a well-off society. In late 1994, according to the guidelines established in the conference of "Baqi" Rural Poverty Alleviation Program and the deployment of the State Council, Bank of China took on the task of poverty alleviation in the four poverty-stricken counties in Longyan of Fujian Province, namely Shanghang, Wuping, Changting and Liancheng.

During the seven years from then on to 2001, Bank of China had dispatched 26 cadres (with their posts retained) in seven batches for poverty alleviation in specific areas, and accumulatively granted loans of more than RMB 1 billion to 14 large infrastructural projects and key enterprises, annually increasing output and tax contribution by RMB 1 billion and RMB 500 million respectively. Furthermore, crisis-cross transport networks was formed by state highways, provincial highways and super highways. In its active effort to promote educational development in poor regions, the bank provided total funds of RMB 7.8 million to local schools, building houses for 15 Hope Schools and aiding more than 9,000 poor students. With total investment of RMB 2 million, the bank established the Bank of China Western Fujian Education Assistance and Award Fund, awarding and supporting 348 excellent teachers...

In 1997, the Longyan area in western Fujian, once a poor and backward region, achieved the "Baqi" Rural Poverty Alleviation Program three years earlier than the other regions of China, putting an end to absolute poverty and solving the problem of food and clothing. In 2001, 1,210 administrative villages in 86 villages and towns affiliated to Longyan City and four former poverty-stricken counties generally reached or approached the well-off standards. In 2006, according to the Annual Report on China Urban Competitiveness issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Longyan ranked the 91st among the top 100 counties (cities) for comprehensive competitiveness.

Through the special poverty alleviation in specific areas, more and more people in need have been enabled to share achievement of development and reform of Bank of China. According to incomplete statistics, over the 12 years since 1995, Bank of China, by making full use of its funds, talents, information and other advantages, has invested RMB 1.2 billion and USD 11.8 million to support enterprises in Longyan and Xianyang for technical upgrading and implementation of new projects. With fostering of a large number of key industries and remarkable improvement of infrastructure, local people have seen considerable changes in their production and living conditions. The bank donated more than RMB 9 million to the construction of 20 Hope Schools and for aiding more than 6,000 poor students, as well as encouraging a large number of teachers to devote themselves to rural education.

"To help the poverty-stricken areas get rid of poverty and become prosperous and to achieve coordinated development of different regions is not only a strategic deployment by the Central Party Committee and the State Council, and an important measure for carrying out the scientific concept of development. At the same time, it is an obligation of Bank of China in its development and reform," said Bank of China Chairman Xiao Gang.

Educational loans: to cherish every student with hope

"As a heart-warming policy, the state-subsidized student loan benefits students from poor families by bringing them opportunities to create their own future. Please allow me to express my great thanks to the State for this policy and to Bank of China for the loans." These words by Wang Fengqian voiced the thoughts of thousands of students benefiting from the state-subsidized student loans.

In 2005, Wang Fengqian, a student from Zhai Town, Xintai City of Shandong Province, was enrolled in the University of Electronic Science and Technology of Chengdu, but the expensive tuition was a great trouble to his poor and old parents. Though his parents collected all their savings and borrowings from friends and relatives, the amount was far from enough when the new semester started.

Thanks to the state-subsidized student loan granted by Bank of China, Wang Fengqian entered the university. One year later, with excellent performance in every subject, he won the first-class scholarship. Besides, he passed CET-6 and National Computer Test Band 2 and became a student helper in the Center of Students' Financial Assistance to assist other students in conducting state-subsidized student loan.

"As a large state-owned holding commercial bank, Bank of China has the obligation to fulfill its social responsibilities. The bank has done outstanding work in state-subsidized student loan business and its market share of loan balance ranks the first, surpassing those of the other domestic commercial banks. The professional and high-level financial service has helped many students realize their dream of higher education," said Li Lihui, President of Bank of China.

Before the new policy of state-subsidized student loan was issued in 2004, Bank of China had carried out cooperation with 122 provincial universities (colleges) on this business. In the public bidding organized by the National Students' Loan Center of the Ministry of Education, Bank of China was awarded the contract for granting of student loans to universities (colleges) under state ministries as the exclusive bank.

Bank of China holds the aim of not letting students drop out for financial difficulties. As the exclusive undertaker of the business, the bank has taken the state-subsidized student loan as a systematic and strategic project, supported poor students for their higher education and solved their financial difficulties in education, by devoting a large amount of manpower, materials and capital in the project and emphasizing loan risks control.

Furthermore, under the "customer-oriented" principle, Bank of China has explored new areas of cooperation between the bank and universities (colleges) and achieved a balanced development of social and economical benefits by fully strengthening its financial services to 115 universities (colleges) under state ministries, tailoring a package of financial service solutions to the latter, and providing deposit, agency, financing, wealth management and other financial products and services.

Bank of China has won wide acclaim from teachers and students and all social circles for its initiative in developing the business. In the letter of thanks to Bank of China, Beijing Jiaotong University wrote, "From the figures and words that indicate your achievements, we see your hard work and efforts, your great care, trust and tolerance given to the college students."

According to the latest statistics, from 1999 when the state-subsidized student loan business was initiated to the end of June 2007, Bank of China had provided 115 universities (colleges) under state ministries and 122 local ones with various banking services including the loan, with 767,800 people signing the loan contracts as borrowers and total granting amount of RMB 6.875 billion.

In August 2006, based on the experience of previous cooperation, Bank of China and the Ministry of Education renewed a four-year cooperation agreement, to keep providing state-subsidized student loan for the 115 universities (colleges) under ministries.

This July, the national government expressly proposed to establish and improve the aid policy system for students from poor families. It is expected that annual financial input, student loans and financial aids provided by universities (colleges) will reach RMB 50 billion, to benefit 20 million students, with the financial aid available to more than 20 out of 100 college students. This initiative features stronger assistance, wider coverage, more options and easier operation.

When it comes to the huge potential market of state-subsidized student loan business, Bank of China President Li Lihui said, "In the next few years, Bank of China will continue to perform well in granting and managing student loan, and deepen the comprehensive cooperation with universities (colleges) by implementing the new policy on state-subsidized student loan, and timely adjusting its strategic structure."

Public welfare activities: bringing more smiles on the poverty-stricken areas

There are 360 million children in China, one sixth of the world's total. Children are the future of our country and the hope of the nation. It is the common responsibility of the whole society to care about their health and protect their growth.

In 2002, Bank of China and the China Children and Teenagers Fund (CCTF) jointly launched the Change for Charity fundraising activity, collecting a total fund of RMB 1 million. The fund was completely invested in the two large social public welfare projects initiated by CCTF, namely the Spring Bud Program for helping girl dropouts in poverty regions return to schools and the Safe and Healthy Growth Project for enhancing children's physically and mentally healthy growth.

To give full play to the fundraising event, Bank of China carefully selected 1,733 outlets and set unified collection boxes. Customers of savings or credit business were encouraged to donate on a voluntary basis to assist the poverty-stricken children in West China and prevent them from "illiteracy and disease" as early as possible. Besides proper maintenance of collection boxes, two or more Ambassadors of Love appointed by outlets of the bank open the boxes to check and count the charity funds on May 26 and December 26 annually, which are deposited in the account designated by CCTF.

Pei Fang is a common employee of Bank of China Beijing Branch. Just when the Change for Charity collection boxes were set, she actively donated and applied for acting as the Ambassador of Love for management and maintenance of the donation boxes. It is hard to count the money in the collection boxes since most of them are pennies and dimes. However, as the money represented love of donators to the children, Pei and her colleagues were very serious about the job with no errors during the last 5 years. Moreover, Pei spent her annual leaves of several consecutive years in paying visits to the Hope Primary Schools in the poverty areas in Shanxi, Guangxi and other regions and helped students there with her own money. Therefore, Pei was awarded the title of the Best Ambassador of Love by CCTF. "Seeing smiles of children, I feel that all efforts and hardship are worthwhile," said her.

With a common hope, Bank of China and all social circles have provided strong support and actively participated in the Spring Bud Program and the Safe and Healthy Growth Project, winning recognition from the society and changing the fate of numerous children. The Spring Bud Program, as a large social public welfare project, has raised more than RMB 600 million in the 18 years since its establishment and helped 1.5 million girl dropouts return to school. Thanks to the Spring Bud Program, 973 girl dropouts in the relatively underdeveloped Yugan County of Jiangxi Province received help during 10 years. Shangguan Nan, an orphan and a student of Shagang middle school in Gubu Town of Yugan County, has been selected as merit student for seven consecutive years and also one of the National Top Ten Spring Bud Girls; Wang Qiumei, a student from a poor family in Jiulong Township, has successfully completed her middle-school and university education. Wang Qiumei said with emotion, "Without the Spring Bud Program, I would have been feeding pigs and cooking all day long."

Bank of China was highly praised and recognized by all social circles including CCTF, China Red Cross, China Women's Development Foundation and China Charity Federation for supporting the Spring Bud Program and the Safe and Healthy Growth Project. In July 2002, the bank was one of the first gaining the honorary title of Public Welfare Star from China Charity Federation and CCTF. In 2007, Bank of China won the honorary title of the Enterprise with Greatest Passion for Children from CCTF. In addition, 71 branches (sub-branches and outlets) of the bank have been selected as the Excellent Enterprises with Passion for Children or Enterprises with Passion for Children, and 73 employees of the bank won the titles of Outstanding Star of Ambassador of Love or Star of Ambassador of Love.

The honor is presented based on the practice of 230,000 employees of Bank of China in seriously implementing the scientific concept of development, their shared expectation of building a socialist harmonious society, as well as their faithful care for needy people, strong sense of responsibility and silent contribution.

The bank has donated materials and more than RMB 20 million in disaster relief funds to tsunami-stricken regions in the Indian Ocean, typhoon-stricken areas in Zhejiang, Guangdong and other regions, snow disaster areas in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and earthquake-stricken Kashgar in Xinjiang.

The bank also donated RMB 1 million to the "Love of the Earth, Water Cellars for Mothers" project, a large public welfare project covering 15 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) in China, to help the poverty-stricken mothers in the poor and arid areas of West China. Funds provided by Bank of China fundamentally solved drinking water problem of 1,147 farmers and herdsmen in six villages of Shigatse, Qamdo, Nyingchi and Ali in Tibet Autonomous Region. Last June, Bank of China won Outstanding Contribution Award for "Love of the Earth, Water Cellars for Mothers", and Li Lihui, President of the bank, was honored with the title of Star of Charity for the same project.

Hong Kong Lifeline Express is a hospital eye-train that provides free cataract operations to patients in the poverty-stricken areas of China's mainland, bringing light to lots of patients with kindness and care of Bank of China staff and Hong Kong citizens. Lifeline Express is, therefore, recognized by people as "a bridge between compatriots in China's mainland and Hong Kong, a great heart-warming project".

Bank of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences jointly invested RMB 30 million in founding the Tan Kah Kee Science Award Foundation, a national non-profit foundation once every two years rewards Chinese outstanding scientists who make major original and innovative scientific and technological achievements.

In August 2007, the bank donated RMB 1 million to the China Education Development Foundation of the Ministry of Education to help the poverty-stricken college students complete their education, receiving high praise from all social circles.

Bank of China has provided strong support to international financial exchange activities of the government authorities and social communities. Now, it has become the largest financial services provider for international conference among the domestic commercial banks, by offering exclusive sponsorship or financial services to the Asian Games, the World Conference on Women and NGO Forum, the 96th General Assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Fortune Forum, the APEC Unofficial Summit, the Bank Annual Meeting in Asian and Pacific Regions, the National Ethnic Minority Games, China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and other large events.

(This article is quoted from Xinhua Daily Telegraph dated October 20, 2007)

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