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In China, only gold matters

Latest update : 2008-08-24

China's gold medalists are raking it in - prize money from the state, contracts with advertisers... In a country where politics and business go hand in hand, athletes remain firmly linked to the workings of the state.

BEIJING - Chinese athletes now have an added incentive to win Olympic gold -- helping poor children to get a new school.

Top Chinese home appliance maker Haier Group said on Saturday that it was launching a programme to build one primary school in a poor rural area for every gold that China wins in Beijing.

Weightlifter Chen Xiexia won China's first gold medal of the Olympics on Saturday, in the women's 48kg class. Shooter Du Li, who had been a favourite to take the first gold of the Games in the 10m air rifle contest earlier in the day, failed to win a medal and left the arena in tears.

Beijing Olympics sponsor Haier, based in the coastal city of Qingdao, which is hosting the sailing events at the Games, said it would make its donations through Project Hope, a Chinese charity dedicated to improving access to education in poverty-stricken parts of the country.

While primary education is in theory free for all Chinese children, the conditions at schools vary greatly from region to region, and many poor parents cannot afford the various fees that many schools charge.

The state of many classroom buildings was brought into sharp focus when a devastating earthquake hit southwestern Sichuan province in May, killing at least 70,000 people.

Many of the victims were pupils whose schools crumbled down on top of them, which parents blamed on shoddy materials and lax safety checks.

 

Date created : 2008-08-24

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