Trong cùng một ngày, bà vợ góa 92 tuổi của ông Đặng Tiểu Bình đã hiến tặng toàn bộ số tiền dành dụm 100.000 yuan của mình cho nạn nhân động đất ở Tứ Xuyên thì Yao Ming, một danh thủ bóng rổ giàu nhất trong những người nổi tiếng ở Trung Quốc đã hiến tặng 500.000 yuan (70.000 USD). Năm ngoái, Yao Ming làm được 55 triệu USD.
Việc này đã tạo nên một cơn động đất phản đối trên internet của người Trung Quốc và Yao Ming sau đó đã tự tăng số tiền ủng hộ nạn nhân lên 2.000.000 yuan.
Theo lời một người bình luận, một người lao động nghèo thuộc loại dưới đáy xã hội Trung Quốc đã hiến tặng 600 yuan, số tiền một tháng lương của ông ta.
by Charles Whelan Sun May 18, 8:28 PM ET
BEIJING (AFP) - On a day when Deng Xiaoping's widow gave her entire life savings to China's earthquake relief, it didn't pass unnoticed here that sporting icon Yao Ming was a little less generous with his own donation.
China's richest celebrity donated 500,000 yuan (70,000 dollars) to a relief fund, sparking fierce criticism on the Internet that it was too little from a basketball hero known for his charity work.
"A bit stingy isn't it?" one fan wrote.
The 7.9-magnitude quake in China's southwest Sichuan province likely killed some 50,000 people, according to government estimates, with the official toll already nearly 29,000 but countless thousands missing or believed buried under the rubble of devastated towns.
Yao, the 2.26-metre (seven-foot-six-inch) Houston Rockets centre, has been at the top of the Forbes magazine list of richest Chinese celebrities for the past five years.
Last year he earned some 55 million dollars from basketball and sponsorship activities.
His initial offer of 500,000 yuan triggered its own "earthquake of protest,' Maopu (www.mop.com), a top entertainment website, said.
Critics maintain that the donation was loose change to a man who makes more than that with one promotional photo shoot.
"If 500,000 dollars -- not to mention 500,000 yuan -- disappeared from his bank account, he wouldn't even notice," said one fan.
Internet criticism of Yao forced the basketball star to up his donation to 2,000,000 yuan later in the week, according to media reports.
Criticism of sporting heroes is unusual in China where they are often seen as national icons.
Yao is known for his charity work, raising more than a million dollars for under-privileged Chinese children last year and devoting time and energy toward helping stage the 2007 Special Olympics in his home city of Shanghai.
But some Chinese are not slow to attack Yao when it comes to money, accusing him of not giving enough of his enormous wealth back to his home country.
"He's been drinking milk and eating bread (like an American) for a while and he's forgotten where he comes," one posting said. "You are Chinese!"
Though supporters were outnumbered by critics, many people agreed with one commentator who said that contributions were a personal matter, and "whatever Yao gives is his business."
On Friday, China's state media reported that Zhuo Lin, 92-year-old widow of China's late leader Deng, had emptied her life savings totalling 100,000 yuan to give to earthquake victims.
It said she found it hard to sleep and eat after hearing of the tragedy.
State media have played up donations by leaders, business entrepreneurs and others, but donations by the poor have also caught the public eye.
A migrant worker, at the bottom rung of China's labour market, donated 600 yuan which amounted to his entire monthly salary.
"It might not seem like much, but when you consider it's his whole month's income he gave far more than Yao Ming," said one commentator.