The Chinese government handed over Friday 270 tonnes of canned fish to the Sri Lankan government for survivors of last December's tsunami that killed more than 30,000 people and left nearly 1 million homeless in the country.
The 16 containers of mackerel valued at 320,000 US dollars are the first of two such shipments worth a total of 1 million dollars to support the World Food Program's food-for-work schemes helping 36,500 Sri Lankans to rebuild roads and other infrastructure damaged by the tsunami.
The food-for-work participants will receive a family ration of rice, lentils, sugar and oil.
The Chinese funding for the WFP's tsunami operation in Sri Lanka is part of a 20 million dollar donation to United Nations agencies in the tsunami affected region as announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Sri Lanka Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama, on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, thanked the Chinese government and the WFP for their help.
Amunugama said the tsunami-affected areas are the poorest areas in Sri Lanka, and that China is helping "the poorest of the poor" by its donation.
Jeff Taft-Dick, the WFP's country director in Sri Lanka, welcomed China's donation, saying "this is another milestone in China's emergence as a multilateral aid donor."
Taft-Dick said China's aid is very special as it is a developing country providing assistance to another developing country.
He said the assistance highlights China's growing commitment to multilateralism as a way of solving the world's humanitarian and development problems.
Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka Sun Guoxiang said in the handover ceremony that China as a developing country has made its best efforts within its capacity to provide assistance to the tsunami victims of countries concerned.
Sun said China will continue to cooperate closely with the WFP and other international organizations and make concerted efforts for the reconstruction of Sri Lanka.
According to Sun, the Chinese government has provided assistance to Sri Lanka worth 161.6 million RMB yuan (about 20 million dollars), written off the Sri Lankan government's debts worth 35.64 million yuan (about 4.3 million dollars) since the tsunami.
In addition, during his official visit to Sri Lanka in April, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced China would provide Sri Lanka with preferential export buyer's credit of 300 million dollars.