China pledges more aid for disaster-hit countries

China pledged $60m (€44m) today to help countries ravaged by the brutal earthquake and tsunami in South and Southeast Asia that claimed more than 120,000 lives.

China pledged $60m (€44m) today to help countries ravaged by the brutal earthquake and tsunami in South and Southeast Asia that claimed more than 120,000 lives.

Meanwhile, a team of Chinese doctors arrived in catastrophe-hit Indonesia, Chinese Buddhists prayed for no more disasters and state television cancelled its New Year’s Eve gala programming out of respect for the dead.

Premier Wen Jiabao announced the new aid package as he met with Beijing-based diplomats from the affected countries, the government said. China had earlier promised $2.6m (€1.9m) in relief goods and has sent planes carrying tents, blankets and canned food to India and Sri Lanka.

A 35-member Chinese medical team arrived today in Indonesia’s Aceh province to help disaster victims, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The Buddhist Association of China offered condolences and planned to send donations to the countries most affected by Sunday’s earthquake and resulting tsunami, Xinhua said.

The association also called on Chinese Buddhists to pray that there would be no more disasters, Xinhua said, quoting association vice president Sheng Hui.

China and South Asia share Buddhist traditions. The religion travelled to China from India thousands of years ago, and generations of Chinese monks were instructed to “go west” to study Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka.

The Chinese Red Cross launched a nationwide fund drive yesterday, with advertisements in newspapers and a hotline for contributors. The organisation has itself given $640,000 (€469,000) so far, Xinhua said.

State media said that four mainland Chinese were missing following Sunday’s disaster, quoting sources from China’s Embassy in Thailand.

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