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China Increases Tsunami Aid to US$63 Million

Premier Wen Jiabao announced Friday that China will offer an additional 500 million yuan (US$60.46 million) of humanitarian aid to the earthquake and tsunami-hit countries.

Wen made the announcement while meeting with diplomatic envoys of the Indian Ocean tsunami-hit countries in China and representatives of some international organizations in Beijing.

He said the Chinese government will closely follow the situation and further help will be available when it is needed.

"On behalf of the Chinese government, Chinese people and President Hu Jintao and also in the name of my own, I'd like to, once again, convey my sincere sympathy to the disaster-hit countries and peoples, and my deep condolences to the victims," Wen said.

He described the current disaster in many southeast and south Asian and African countries as a catastrophe to the people on this planet, adding that China is a developing country which is frequently struck by natural disasters. "When we were in difficulties, we received help and assistance from many friendly countries."

"We feel the same sadness as yours... everyone in China is deeply concerned with the pain you've suffered and difficulties you are facing," Wen told the diplomats.

The earthquake, measuring at 8.7 on the Richter Scale, hit west of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia Sunday. It triggered tsunamis in some southeast and south Asian countries, killing at least 120,000 people in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Maldives, Thailand and Malaysia.

Shortly after the catastrophe, the Chinese government offered 21.63 million yuan (US$2.62 million) in aid for the tsunami-hit countries. Several Chinese relief and medical teams have left for Thailand and Indonesia to search for victims and treat the injured.

Wen said China has initiated an emergency response system and set up a special working team involving the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health for assistance to the tsunami-hit regions.

China is convinced that under the leadership of the relevant governments and with the assistance from the international community, the tsunami-ravaged countries would recover from the disaster and rebuild their homes, Wen said.

Aa Kustia, Indonesian ambassador to China, said the Indonesian people have been encouraged by China's help in food, medicines and clothes. He was also grateful for China sending medical teams to Indonesia.

Nihal Rodrigo, Sri Lankan ambassador to China, said he has been deeply touched by three Chinese students who had come to the embassy to donate 200 yuan (US$24.2).

Henk Bekedam, representative of the World Health Organization in China, said the Chinese government takes a quick reaction and offer help promptly, demonstrating the friendship between China and the tsunami-hit countries.

The diplomatic envoys of Indonesia, Somalia, Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Tanzania and Kenya as well as representatives from the WHO, United Nations Development Program, General Headquarters of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, the World Bank and the United Nations Children's Fund attended the meeting.

Staff members of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) Friday donated 3 million yuan (US$361,000) for trade union organizations in the tsunami-ravaged countries.

The federation also sent letters to the Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the chairman of the workers organization council, appealing for concerned people to unite and take an active part in the disaster-relief initiative.

All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) Friday urged its staff to donate more money for the tsunami victims after sending dispatches of aid to the disaster-hit areas.

The federation called its counterparts in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar and Maldives and expressed its sympathy and cordial regards to the victims' families soon after the tsunami struck, an ACWF official said.

Zhang Jing, director of the International Liaison Office of ACWF, said the federation sent the first patch of drinking water, food, clothes, and medicine to the tsunami-hit areas on Monday, the day after the disaster occurred.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2004)

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