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Despite Drought, China Dives into ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Despite social media censorship and regional droughts, the "ALS ice bucket challenge" has made its way through Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, with politicians, tech founders and celebrities dumping ice water over their heads to raise research funds and awareness.

Participants in China, without access to Facebook or Twitter, have taken to Weibo -- their version of Twitter -- to post their videos. While some donate to the ALS Association, others are giving money to local groups like China Dolls -- a Beijing-based non-profit fighting rare diseases, the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association, and the Hong Kong Neuro-Muscular Disease Association.

Since the challenge kicked off, China Dolls has received $8.5 million RMB ($1.38 million USD) in donations, compared to the $2 million RMB ($325,000 USD) they received in total last year.

Participants include FoxConn’s Terry Guo, retired NBA player Yao Ming, actress Zhang Ziyi, and Taiwanese film director, Doze Niu, whose father suffered from ALS. Even China's self-proclaimed "Most Charismatic Philanthropist" -- multi-millionaire Chen Guangbiao, who recently made headlines for hosting a lunch for homeless people in New York -- jumped into the fray, immersing himself in a tub of ice water for the cause.

But Chinese netizens have criticized the challenge for wasting water during severe droughts in parts of the country, and questioned the validity of a donation promise in videos some say missed the point by not even mentioning ALS.

In response, actor Takeshi Kaneshiro used water from his dehumidifier to complete the challenge in complete silence, donated money then declined to nominate more challengers. CCTV anchor Lu Yu donated, but refused to waste water, posting instead about the drought in Henan, China.

TODAY takes the ice bucket challenge 2:37

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