Re: China EarthquakeMay 14th, 2008
China mobilised its 2.3 million-strong armed forces to lead the search and rescue effort,
Hong Kong spearheaded a global relief drive with an offer amounting to 38 million dollars (24.5 million euros), the lion's share of the 46.5 million dollars pledged worldwide.
China's Asian neighbours also put aside historic rivalries to offer help to Beijing,
with Japan offering 500 million yen (4.8 million dollars) of blankets, tents and cash aid.
Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, said it would join the rescue effort,
while its president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, who has moved to repair ties with China, donated 200,000 Taiwan dollars (6,500 US) from his own pocket.
South Korea put dozens of rescue workers and medical staff on standby,
while Australia offered emergency search and rescue help.
And as China agreed to scale back the Olympic torch relay in response to the deadly earthquake -- in response to an Internet outcry -- the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledged one million dollars for relief.
Outside the region, the White House said it was providing 500,000 dollars in emergency relief and could send more aid if needed,
while Canada said it was ready to send help.
A Russian transport aircraft carrying 30 tonnes of tents and blankets left Moscow Tuesday night for China, news agencies reported.
European Union nations said they "stand ready" to provide humanitarian assistance as soon as conditions permit,
while British aid agency Oxfam said it has allocated 1.5 million dollars towards dealing with the quake aftermath.
In Geneva the Red Cross said it had allocated some 150,000 euros,
while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was ready to send aid if China requested it, but stressed that Beijing had a well-trained relief corps at its disposal.
In stark contrast to Myanmar where the ruling junta was criticised for its handling of this month's cyclone in the Irrawaddy Delta, Beijing rolled out a mammoth relief effort within hours of the quake.
As well as the army deployment, China launched a national blood drive to supply survivors,
while private airlines were called in to transport aid,
and the Red Cross Society of China appealed to all Chinese for cash donations.
But officials said attempts to reach the worst-hit areas were badly disrupted by torrential rain and the sheer scale of the damage, and forecasters warned more rain would increase the risk of landslides in Sichuan in the coming days.
While China kept the door open to foreign offers of help, saying it "welcomed" them, it warned the conditions were "not yet ripe" to allow foreign rescue teams into the country, citing damage to transport links.
International aid experts said it was important for Beijing to be seen to be coping with the disaster alone.
"For China, in addition to questions of sovereignty, there is the question of national pride," said Pierre Micheletti, head of the medical charity Medecins du Monde (MDM, Doctors of the World).
"This is a great country that is about to organise the Olympic Games and which probably has trouble admitting it might need outside countries to help it handle a disaster."
Rony Brauman, former head of Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), agreed that "a natural disaster shines a light on relations between the authorities and the population, between the authorities and the rest of the world.
"It reveals its skills, or inability to react," he said, adding that the sheer scale of the Chinese relief effort was likely to dwarf the work of most non-governmental teams on the ground.