The Chinese people know the destruction and sorrow natural disasters bring, with the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake lingering painfully in the memories of many.
The Chinese also know what outside aid and rescuers mean to desperate people trapped under collapsed buildings. More than 170 countries and 20 international organizations donated to China, and a dozen international professional rescue and medical teams came to help that year.
China lost no time in sending rescue teams and relief supplies to Nepal following an 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the Himalayan country on Saturday and killed more than 6,000 people.
Just after the quake, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang sent messages of condolence to Nepalese leaders for the disaster, offering their sympathies and support.
As of Friday, China has earmarked two rounds of humanitarian aid worth 60 million yuan (9.7 million U.S. dollars) for Nepal.
A 62-member Chinese search and rescue team was among the first to reach quake-hit areas in Nepal, bringing much-needed hope and life-saving equipment. Members have experience in dozens of international and domestic earthquake rescue missions, including those for the 2008 Wenchuan quake and the earthquakes in Japan, Haiti and Pakistan.
The Chinese military dispatched troops and aircraft, including four Ilyushin IL-76 transport planes, to assist rescue efforts and a helicopter to save trapped Chinese citizens at a hydropower station construction site in Nepal.
Zhou Yongsheng, an international relations professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said he was impressed by China’s coordinated evacuation of Chinese citizens and its quick response when sending help.
“An old Chinese saying goes, ‘When disaster strikes, help comes from all sides.’ But in the past, China was powerless to give more than it could provide, though it had the heart to do so,” said Zhou.
Now, the world’s second-largest economy is more willing and capable to help. Aside from government-backed aid, China’s non-government organizations, including foundations and rescue teams, also joined in the efforts. Chinese Internet giant Tencent donated two million yuan and real estate developer Wanda Group donated five million yuan.
Commenting on China’s aid efforts, Nepal’s Ambassador to China Mahesh Kumar Maskey said, “A friend in need is a friend indeed. Nepali people will always remember the support and help from China.”
However, some Western media outlets have accused China of exploiting the disaster to vie for influence in the country.
Yu Jun, an international relations expert at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said these accusations, which mix disaster relief with political interests, don’t deserve any rebuttal at all.
The undeniable fact is that China is more engaged in international disaster-relief work and is seeking a balanced approach between justice and its interests, said Yu.
In April, China deployed two advanced earth observation satellites to conduct mapping of typhoon-hit Vanuatu. It also provided 30 million yuan in humanitarian aid to the South Pacific island country.
China contributed greatly to the fight against Ebola in West Africa last year. It also sent a world-class hospital ship after a strong typhoon killed thousands of people in the Philippines in 2013.
China’s evacuation of hundreds of its own and foreign citizens from war-torn Yemen in March earned the country international praise.
These efforts stand as proof of China’s claim that it is a responsible country seeking to “uphold justice while pursuing shared interests,” said Jia Xiudong from China Institute of International Studies.
“Only through win-win cooperation can we make big and sustainable achievements that are beneficial to all,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping when addressing the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in March.
“If you want to go fast, walk alone; and if you want to go far, walk together,” Xi said, quoting an African proverb, adding that to build a community of common destiny, cooperation not only applies to the economic field, but also to politics, security, culture.
By rushing to Nepal’s aid, China is honoring its promises, said Jia, adding that China’s diplomatic policy will be understood and welcomed by more countries. Enditem