China will provide another three batches of emergency aid to disaster-hit Tonga, including relief supplies worth 20 million yuan ($3.16 million), as Beijing scaled up its efforts to support rebuilding efforts in the Pacific island nation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the announcement at a news conference on Monday, saying that China will make utmost efforts to deliver the relief supplies as early as possible, and will continue to do its best for disaster relief and rebuilding efforts based on the situation and Tonga's needs.
This move came after Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of sympathy on Wednesday to King Tupou VI of Tonga after the disaster, saying that China will do its best to help the people of Tonga get through the disaster and rebuild their homes.
In addition to relief supplies, Zhao said Beijing will provide further emergency humanitarian aid in cash, without disclosing the actual amount. The Red Cross Society of China has already provided a donation of $100,000 in cash to the Tongan side.
A batch of donated relief supplies sent by the Chinese embassy to Fiji, including drinking water, food, electric generators, water pumps and chain saws, was shipped to Tonga on Monday. The supplies are worth 1 million yuan.
A ceremony was held at a port in the Fijian capital Suva's Walu Bay to send off two vessels of the China National Fisheries (Group) Corporation carrying the emergency aid.
It will take about three days for the two ships to reach Tonga, said Cao Yongjun, representative for the China National Fisheries.
Sincere, reliable friend
Qian Bo, Chinese ambassador to Fiji, said the latest relief supplies have once again proved that China is a sincere and reliable friend for countries in the region.
He said China and Tonga are comprehensive strategic partners, and the nation is always ready to provide support within its capacity if countries in the South Pacific region need assistance.
With the help of the international community, the ambassador believed that Tonga will recover from the disaster and Tongans will be able to rebuild their homeland.
Tonga has been grappling with the aftermath of an underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami on Jan 15, with three deaths confirmed so far.
NASA said the eruption was hundreds of times stronger than the US atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945.
The nation still faces challenges including volcano ash, lack of clean water and interrupted communication in its outlying islands.