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Teams sent to help tsunami reconstruction
By Jiang Wei and Zhang Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-18 23:47

Three Chinese investigative teams have been sent to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Indonesia and Thailand to help with reconstruction efforts in the wake of the tsunami disaster.

"One was sent to Sri Lanka and the Maldives on Monday," said the Ministry of Commerce. "The other two are expected to leave for Indonesia and Thailand respectively in recent days."

The teams, composed of officials from the ministry, experts from research institutions and technical staff from large building companies, will help South Asian countries restore their transport systems, electricity supply, communications and hospitals.

They will carry out investigations on the damages of the infrastructure, learn about the demands of local citizens, and help local governments work out re-construction programmes.

Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said China will do its utmost to help people rebuild their homes.

Sources from the ministry said China had already undertaken some projects, but he refused to name them.

Zhang Hongwen, an official of China Harbour Engineering Corp, a leading bridge and harbour construction firm, said the company has long-term business in South Asia and is willing to help local people re-build their homeland.

A technician with the company joined the first investigation team and has been sent to Sri Lanka.

"We have had projects in Sri Lanka before. We know the conditions well there," Zhang said. "Currently, our representative office in Sri Lanka is still running."

The company had built a small harbour in the country, but it was destroyed during the tsunami.

Chinese companies also enjoy geographical advantages, as China is so near to the countries around the Indian Ocean, he said.

An official with the China International Contractors Association said major Chinese construction companies have also expressed their interest in taking part in the re-construction campaign.

"Most of them had projects in South Asia," he said. "They are confident they can play a role in this campaign, as they are familiar with the situation there."

China as a whole has been mobilized to help the countries soon after the disaster.

The Chinese Government pledged US$2.6 million of supplies and immediate relief to these areas and made an additional donation of 500 million yuan (US$60 million) a few days later.

By January 14, Red Cross China had collected more than 150 million yuan (US$18.1 million) in private donation.

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