Emergency Humanitarian Aid
Emergency humanitarian aid is provided when a country or region suffers a severe natural or humanitarian disaster. In such cases, China provides materials or cash for emergency relief or dispatches relief personnel of its own accord or at the victim country's request, so as to reduce losses of life and property in disaster-stricken areas and help the victim country tackle difficulties caused by the disaster.
Over the years, China has taken an active part in emergency relief operations in foreign countries, and has been playing a more and more important role in international emergency humanitarian relief. To make relief actions quicker and more effective, the Chinese government formally established a response mechanism for emergency humanitarian relief and aid in foreign countries in September 2004. In December 2004, when a tsunami hit countries by the Indian Ocean, China launched the largest ever emergency relief operation in its history, providing 700 million yuan worth of aid to the disaster-stricken countries. In the past five years, the Chinese government has provided on nearly 200 occasions emergency aid to foreign countries, including offering emergency technical aid to Southeast Asian countries for the prevention and treatment of bird flu; providing emergency aid in materials and cash to Guinea-Bissau hit by a locust plague and cholera, to Ecuador to fight dengue fever and to Mexico to fight influenza A (H1N1). It also assisted Iran, Pakistan, Haiti and Chile following severe earthquakes, Madagascar after a hurricane, Burma and Cuba following tropical storms, and Pakistan following a flood. In addition, it sent emergency food aid to DPRK, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Burundi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other countries.
Overseas Volunteer Programs
China selects volunteers and sends them to other developing countries to serve the local people in education, medical and health care and some other social sectors. The volunteers now China sends mainly include young volunteers and Chinese-language teachers.
In May 2002, China dispatched, for the first time, five volunteers to Laos to provide services in education and medical and health care for half a year. By the end of 2009, China had dispatched to 19 developing countries, including Thailand, Ethiopia, Laos, Myanmar, Seychelles, Liberia and Guyana, 405 young volunteers who provide services in the fields of Chinese-language teaching, traditional Chinese medicine treatment, agricultural technology, sports and physical training, computer skills, international relief and so on. China has sent regular teams of volunteers to Ethiopia, Guyana and a few other countries. In 2003, China started to dispatch volunteer Chinese-language teachers to other countries. By the end of 2009, China had dispatched 7,590 Chinese-language teachers to over 70 countries around the world.
Debt relief means that China cancels the mature governmental debts of some developing countries that they owe China. China never urges indebted countries to pay back governmental debts. When recipient countries encounter difficulties in repaying due interest-free loans, the Chinese government usually adopts flexible ways and extends the period of repayment through bilateral discussions. To reduce the debt burden on financially troubled countries, China has, on six occasions, declared that it would cancel debts incurred by mature interest-free loans owed to China by those heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries which have diplomatic ties with China. Those occasions were the FOCAC First Ministerial Conference in 2000, UN High-Level Meeting on Financing for Development in 2005, Beijing Summit of the FOCAC in 2006, UN High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2008, the FOCAC Fourth Ministerial Conference in 2009 and UN High-Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010. By the end of 2009, China had signed debt relief protocols with 50 countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania, canceling 380 mature debts totaling 25.58 billion yuan.
[Table 2 Statistics on Debts Owned to China That Have Been Canceled by the Chinese Government (by the end of 2009)]