BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The ice bucket challenge -- "raising awareness" of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) -- has gone viral among China's celebrities from tech executives to movie stars.
As of Friday, the campaign had raised more than 8.5 million yuan (1.38 million U.S. dollars) for China-Dolls Center for Rare Disorders (CCRD), a non-profit organization. The organization only received two million yuan in the whole of 2013.
The campaign, which asks people to either drench themselves with ice water or donate to the ALS foundation, or both, has brought unprecedented attention to the disease.
Zhang Haoyu, a CCRD staff member, said that their followers on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, have increased more than 100 fold since the campaign began.
Some argue that although CCRD is raising plenty of money, the donations still are not enough to make any real difference, considering the high cost and long time span of developing an effective drug. Others contend that the event is merely another opportunity for celebrities to show off.
A dozen farmers in central China's Henan Province, which is suffering a severe drought, protested about the challenge, accusing the campaign of being a waste of water, but the stunt was later discovered to be promotion for a local scenic spot.
Also in Hunan, a helicopter dumped ice water onto a man who has since been accused of being nothing more than a self-publicist.
China's Ministry of Civil Affairs warned on Thursday that the campaign was in danger of commercializing a charitable cause.
In an age of viral Internet events capturing people's attention (and money), there may be plenty more such escapades in the future that do not bring much help to those they claim to benefit.
"We should not forget what the campaign was started for. Those patients need more money and care, but can a viral event truly help them?" said netizen "bushizidefanshuzhe" on Sina Weibo.