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China & Taiwan Offer Aid to Quake-Hit Indonesia

As the death toll from a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia rose by more than 800 Monday to 5,137, neighboring countries have continued to offer support to the survivors.
( [email protected] ) May 29, 2006 12:00 PM EDT

As the death toll from a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia rose by more than 800 Monday to 5,137, neighboring countries have continued to offer support to the survivors.

The Chinese government pledged on Saturday to offer aid of US$2 million in cash for quake-hit Indonesia and will provide rescue personnel or materials as needed, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The assistance has been presented by Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Lan Lijun to Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie in Jakarta Monday. This is the first foreign financial aid received by the Indonesian government, according to Bakrie.

As the aid will be distributed to disaster victims in the form of cash hanouts, survivors of the earthquake can then use the cash to buy what they need, which is also a way to stimulate economic activities in the midst of disorder.

Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a message of condolence on Saturday to his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, saying that under Susilo's leadership the nation will be able to overcome the hardship caused by the quake, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is sending a first-aid team to the very frontline of the earthquake to rescue survivors, Central News Agency ReThe team is composed of 20 well-trained rescuers, six medical professionals and a rescue dog, which once served a devastating earthquake in Iran a few years ago.

Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Huang Chih-fang told Central News Agency (CNA) that Beijing has attempted to pressure Indonesia to reject Taiwan’s offer. The Chinese government refuses to form diplomatic allies with any countries that associated with Taiwan.

However, the Indonesian authorities told Chinese diplomats in Jakarta that they welcome and appreciate Taiwan's humanitarian aid because "Taiwan is one of Indonesia's most important investment partners" and "disaster relief knows no political boundaries", according CNA.

Huang presented a national flag to a 26-member Taiwan first-aid team prior to its departure for Java on Monday to help with post-earthquake relief work, encouraging them to "convey Taiwan people's sympathy and love for Indonesian quake victims through their selfless relief work," CNA reported.

Members of the Chinese International Search and Rescue team (CISR) also set off Monday from Beijing. They have brought along with them the relief materials and equipment for rescue operation.