MEDIA REPORT - China responds
by Melito Salazar Jr. from Manila Bulletin(Nov. 24)
2013/11/25

In the early days after typhoon "Yolanda" struck, quick responses came from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations. International Western media in reporting the avalanche of assistance focused on the pittance of help coming from the Philippines' great neighbor, the People's Republic of China. They traced this to the still simmering tensions between the governments of the Philippines and China over territorial claims.

What was conveniently overlooked is that China's initial announced assistance relied on reports coming from the Philippine government which in the beginning seemed to indicate minimal damage within the capability of the local government to handle. However as the magnitude of the disaster unfolded, China dramatically ramped up its support.

The R73-million aid pledged consisting of 10,000 blankets and 2,600 tents good for 6-10 persons was delivered to the Philippine government on Nov. 19. The next day, a contingent of more than 80 doctors and nurses arrived, followed on Nov. 23 with a chartered plane bringing 2,000 tents, medicines, and medical equipment, which will be left behind with the Philippine government upon the end of the mission.

The Chinese government is sending The Peace Ark Hospital Ship, the first 10,000-ton-class hospital ship in the world to provide medical aid to the coastal communities severely hit by the super-typhoon. The ship is equipped with 217 kinds and 2,406 units of advanced medical systems, including CT scan room, digital X-ray photographic studio, blood bank, oxygen generation station, pharmacy, etc. The Peace Ark is fitted with 300 ward beds of various types, including 20 ICU ward beds, 109 ward beds for serious injury, 67 burn ward beds, 94 regular ward beds, 10 beds of quarantine ward. There is also a tele-medicine diagnosis system and three lifts with special specifications for transferring the wounded on board.

Chinese foundations and businesses have responded as well. The Association of Chinese Companies in the Philippines have donated P7.5 million to buy 3 pay loaders to help clean up disaster areas. Huawei Company, an international leader in the telecom industry and partner of Globe, has been working 24/7 to restore the lifeline of communication in the typhoon-affected areas. In the immediate aftermath of the typhoon, the company immediately assessed the damage, organized a team of experts, and sent more than a dozen engineers to Tacloban. By 2 in the afternoon of Nov. 10, the company had set up the satellite telephone system, enabling the very first phone call to the area outside the disaster area. Local victims were able to call relatives and friends outside the typhoon – hit areas. Within the next three days, Huawei successfully brought the local telecommunication network back to normal condition.

China National Grid Co., the technical partner of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, in addition to donating $100,000, contributed immensely to restoring the power system of the disaster area. The Yinyi, Inc., a mining company based in Eastern Samar provided its food and water storage to victims, used its pay loaders to clear roads, donated its diesel stockpile to support the relief efforts, and raised P250,000 worth of cash, goods, food, and medicine.

The Chinese embassy in the Philippines donated P1.2 million worth of emergency supplies directly to Leyte and Samar. A well-known NGO named after the late Chinese honorary President Soong Ching Ling is preparing 200 mobile houses (P22.4 million) for Leyte, East Samar, and Bohol.

This assistance should be viewed in the context that China suffered from the same typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) affecting 4 million Chinese and causing huge losses and casualties. What is important is that the Chinese people are also empathizing with the Filipinos as illustrated by Mr. Liang Wenchong, who donated half of his first-place purse of US$135,000 from the Resorts World Manila Masters "as a form of respect and gesture to those affected."

Hopefully this commonality of suffering and sharing could lead to better relationships between the governments of the Philippines and China, reflecting the continuing warm feelings between the Chinese and Filipino peoples.

Business Bits. The Management Association of the Philippines has initially donated more than R600,000 for support to college students studying in the University of the Philippines whose families perished or were severely affected. Another P5 million is being raised for students in other universities and colleges.

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