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Tents Bring Sympathy and Friendship from Britain
2008/05/30

After the earthquakes in China's Sichuan Province, tents become the most urgently needed relief materials in the disaster-hit areas. The Embassy has been working hard to collect as many tents as possible for the people in affected areas.

The disaster-hit areas and the relief work come foremost to our mind. The Embassy has not only worked hard to seek assistance in the form of tents but also urgently tried to purchase more tents.

Ambassador Fu Ying made phone calls to Douglas Alexander, Secretary of International Development, to inform him of the urgent need for tents. The British Government has decided to provide additional 1-million-pound worth of materials including 5000 tents on the basis of 1 million pounds already pledged. From TV pictures we can see that the first batch of tents have already reached the disaster-hit areas. When the volunteers helped the people put up the tents, a mother sighed with relief, saying that she could at last have a good sleep for the first time in two weeks.

For days senior diplomats have conveyed the message through different channels to the British public and the Chinese community about the materials that are urgently needed and appealed for their help in getting more tents to Sichuan. The Embassy has uploaded information about this and asked the British media to broadcast it in the news. Many people have also provided information and volunteered their help.

The Embassy has also designated a counselor and several diplomats to be specifically in charge for the purchasing of the tents. Other staff also helped. After many phones calls and visits, they found that the Black Leisure Group had tents that could each shelter 10 people so they decided to buy all their 1484 tents in stock. These tents were high quality but expensive. When the company learned that it would be used for disaster-hit areas in China, it gave the Embassy 45% discount and agreed to deliver the tents the next day free of charge. Bank of China (UK) agreed to provide guarantee and ensured rapid delivery.

In order to facilitate customs clearance and early delivery to the disaster-hit areas, Air China and its London office provided help. Air China exempted the transport fee and other additional charge. Its London office contacted its agents Air Canada Cargo and Eurasia Air Cargo for free loading, custom declaration, quarantine and storage.

As Air China passenger flight has only 20 tonnage of daily freight capacity and its agents have limited storage, it was difficult to store and ship the tents, weighing 51.8 tons, immediately. Air China London office coordinated to ensure storage and early freight. The tents would be delivered to China from 24 to 27 May and would be put to use as soon as they arrive.

The Blythswood Care in North Wales has told the Embassy that it could donate 1500-2000 tents and sleeping bags. Lei Xie, David Nie and 3 other Chinese living in London are willing to fund the transport of the donations to the airport, which is now being arranged.

Every tent from Britain is a token of friendship of the British people and the care and love of the Embassy staff. It's a great relief to see people in the disaster-hit areas move in to the tents and everyone is happy to be able to do something for them.

On behalf of the Chinese Government and people in the disaster-hit areas, the Embassy would like to express its heart-felt thanks to the British Government and people and the ethnic Chinese community for their generous help.
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