Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

China, breaking with past, accepts neighbors' help

Rescue workers carry an earthquake victim evacuated by boat from Yingxiu to the Zipingpu Dam on Thursday. China warned the death toll from this week’s earthquake could soar to 50,000.

Associated Press

Rescue workers carry an earthquake victim evacuated by boat from Yingxiu to the Zipingpu Dam on Thursday. China warned the death toll from this week’s earthquake could soar to 50,000.

MIANYANG, China — With the death toll from this week's earthquake rising rapidly, China made a sharp departure from past diplomatic practice on Thursday, seeking disaster relief experts and heavy equipment needed for rescue operations from neighbors it has long shunned as rivals or renegades.

Officials asked a longtime rival, Japan, to send 60 earthquake rescue experts, the first such team it has taken from a foreign country during the current crisis and one of the few relief missions China has ever accepted from abroad. They also accepted help from two private rescue teams from Taiwan, the self-governing island with which China has long had tense relations.

The decision to seek outside help reflects the fact that the search for survivors of Monday's massive earthquake and the struggle to accommodate tens of thousands of displaced people from the mountainous region around the epicenter of the quake are too much for China to handle alone, even after it mobilized 130,000 army soldiers and medics for relief work.

But the selective invitations — some foreign nations that have offered aid have so far been told that their services are not needed — may also show that Beijing sees disaster relief as a tactical tool to improve ties with neighbors and soften its international image ahead of the Olympic Games in August.

China is still struggling to provide humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of homeless people even as it tries to ramp up search-and-rescue efforts for 40,000 buried or missing people scattered across remote villages in the serpentine valleys of Sichuan province.

Officials estimated Thursday that the death toll, at nearly 20,000, could rise to 50,000. Doctors say those who are alive but still buried cannot survive much longer, yet many of the troops involved in rescue efforts appear to have little training in disaster relief and lack proper tools and equipment.

Chinese President Hu Jintao flew today to Sichuan to support victims and express "appreciation to the public and cadres in the disaster zone," state media said. The government said it allocated $772-million for earthquake relief, according to the central bank's Web site, up sharply from a figure of $159-million two days ago.

State media said that rescuers had finally reached all 58 counties and townships severely damaged. Health officials said there have been no outbreaks of disease so far.

Buddhist groups help

A foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday that China had received pledges of $100-million in international disaster aid and $10-million in relief materials.

The two Taiwanese groups invited to participate rescue operations are both Buddhist organizations without official government ties, and one of them, Tzu Chi, has been granted permission for two relief flights directly into Chengdu, the capital of earthquake stricken Sichuan province. Because of their long history of political rivalry and tension, China and Taiwan do not have regular direct air connections.

One Chinese relief official called the invitations to a relatively small number of overseas teams "rescue diplomacy." China has been eager to secure international good will in what has so far been a trying diplomatic year for the country, with crises involving Tibet, human rights, and pressure to reduce support for the Sudanese government.

The magnitude 7.9 quake devastated entire counties, destroying an estimated 4-million homes, rendering roads impassible and leaving as many as 10-million dependent on relief aid.

China accepted offers from four countries to send in rescue teams: Japan, Russia, South Korea, and Singapore.

>>fast facts

Taking assistance

China accepted offers

from four countries to send in rescue teams: Japan, Russia, South Korea and Singapore.

China, breaking with past, accepts neighbors' help 05/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  4. Tampa man turns himself in for Sunday hit and run fatality

    Public Safety

    A Tampa man was arrested early Sunday after he struck and killed a pedestrian, left the scene, and then called 911 to turn himself in.

  5. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119