China's aid to flooded Pakistan enhances bilateral friendship

19:42, December 16, 2010      

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China has pledged a total of 250 million U.S. dollars in flood aid to Pakistan and sent rescue and medical teams to the worst-hit areas, and it will continue to support Pakistan's post-disaster reconstruction.

The worst floods in Pakistan's history hit one-fourth of the country in July and August, leading to huge losses in property and life.

China's aid has been highly praised, adding a new annotation to the deep traditional friendship between the two countries.

China was one of the first countries offering aid to Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of the historic floods in late July. The first batch of aid from the Chinese government, authorized on Aug. 1, was handed over to Pakistan on Aug. 4.

Social organizations, enterprises, individuals from China and the Chinese people in Pakistan have been giving a helping hand to the Pakistani people by making donations in cash or in kind.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced an additional assistance of 200 million U.S. dollars to flooded Pakistan at a UN summit in New York on Sept. 22, bring its total commitment to 250 million dollars, its largest-ever humanitarian aid to a foreign country.

According to the report "Damage and Need Assessment," jointly prepared by the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the floods that swept across Pakistan caused an estimated 9.7 billion dollars in damage to infrastructure, farms and homes, as well as other direct and indirect losses.

During the critical time, China, in accordance with the Pakistan's needs, provided unconditional aid to the country to help its flood rescue, relief and reconstruction efforts.

China sent two international search and rescue teams to the worst-hit Thatta district in southern Sindh province, and the Chinese army sent a 68-member medical team to Sehwan of Sindh and a 64-member rescue team with four helicopters to Hyderabad.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad said it was the biggest deployment of Chinese rescue and medical teams in history and the first time Chinese military helicopters carried out an overseas humanitarian rescue and relief mission.

It is also the first time China had sent a large amount of aid to the neighbor via a land route, with 101 Chinese trucks reaching Sust Dry Port via Khunjerab Pass on Sept. 1, loaded with daily necessities including flour and oil for the stranded people in Hunza area, north Pakistan.

During their stay in Pakistan, the Chinese teams braved abominable working and living conditions. They demonstrated love, compassion, professionalism and responsibility, treating hundreds of patients everyday.

"Pakistan suffered devastating floods this year. The Chinese people sympathized with the Pakistani people and provided substantial aid as soon as it could to help in disaster relief efforts and reconstruction," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said Monday during a press briefing ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's official visit to Pakistan from Dec. 17 to 19.

The helping hand from China was highly acclaimed by the Pakistani government and military as well as local residents. A string of senior figures, including Tariq Majid, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, visited Chinese aid workers and lauded their selfless and efficient efforts.

The team's timely help "reflects the strong friendship between Pakistan and China," Majid said during a visit to a mobile hospital. "At difficult times, the two countries always stand together."

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said several times that Pakistan appreciated China's aid to the flood-affected people this summer, adding China had always been concerned and focused on helping Pakistan through difficult times in a constructive manner. He hoped China would help rebuild infrastructure in the flood-ravaged areas.

On the other hand, when one hydropower station project sponsored by a Chinese company was hit by floodwaters in late July and over 200 Chinese workers were stranded on a mountain in northwest Pakistan, the Pakistani government, army, police and local residents did their best to help rescue them.

Liu Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, said the rescue operation reflected the brotherly friendship between Pakistani and Chinese people.

At present, the first phase of emergency aid is coming to an end in Pakistan and reconstruction is being gradually launched. According to reports, it will take two to three years for Pakistan to recover from the floods.

A Chinese delegation comprising officials from various government departments visited the flood-ravaged areas in northwest Pakistan in early November, and provided assurances the country would support rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

China would continue to support Pakistan's post-disaster reconstruction, especially in agriculture and transport infrastructure, officials in Beijing said Monday.

China and Pakistan are neighbors with a traditional friendship. The two help each other in times of difficulty. Pakistan immediately provided aid when an earthquake struck Yushu County in northwest China's Qinghai Province in April.

China has also been giving assistance to Pakistan for a long time. After a disastrous earthquake hit Pakistan in 2005, China offered huge aid to its neighbor. Now some Chinese companies are helping build shopping malls, libraries and hydropower stations in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, which suffered seriously in the disaster.

Analysts say the pragmatic cooperation between the two countries will be expanded during the reconstruction and Pakistan will get tangible benefits from it.

Source: Xinhua
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