China

China Quake Victims get aid from US Military

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BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. military donations for Chinese earthquake victims became a symbol of warmer Sino-U.S. ties on Monday as U.S. Defence Secretary William Cohen began talks with China's top military officials. Chinese Defence Minister Chi Haotian and senior People's Liberation Army (PLA) military brass thanked Cohen for a planeload of medicine, blankets and warm clothing drawn from U.S. military stocks and delivered to victims of the January 10 earthquake in northern Hebei province.

At a welcoming banquet on Sunday in Beijing, Chi toasted Cohen and said of the U.S. aid: "We in China also believe that a friend in need is a friend indeed." On Sunday Cohen began a three-day visit to China aimed at forging closer ties between the two nations' armed forces. The 40 tonnes of U.S.military supplies, together with $25,000 in cash presented by U.S. Ambassador James Sasser, were worth $500,000, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China's army has played the lead role in delivering relief supplies to rural counties near the Great Wall, where the earthquake killed 50 people, injured about 10,000 and left tens of thousands homeless and in sub-zero temperatures. Local farmers, aided by more than 5,000 PLA soldiers, had built 11,000 houses of wood and plastic sheeting to shelter some 44,000 people against temperatures as low as minus 27 Celsius (minus 16.6 Fahrenheit), Xinhua reported.

Last week the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an appeal for 1.7 million Swiss francs ($1.14 million) to aid victims. Officials from the IFRC said medicine was urgently needed to prevent the spread of influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia among people sleeping outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. Xinhua reported that the Red Cross Society in the Chinese port city of Tianjin had raised 3.5 million yuan ($421,000) and that the Hong Kong Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee had approved donations of $1.58 million from relief organisations. France had contributed one million French francs ($167,000), the report said.($1=8.3 yuan)
Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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