LIFE DETECTION: Chinese rescuers use an instrument that helps locate survivors in Ofunato on March 16 (CHEN JIANLI)
China responded quickly to the earthquake disaster in Japan, sending relief materials and an international rescue team, which arrived only two days after the quake.
Chinese leaders also expressed their concern after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit northeast Japan on March 11. The earthquake—the most powerful in Japan's recorded history—and the tsunami it triggered have caused thousands of deaths and injuries in Japan as well as massive destruction.
In a message to Japanese Emperor Akihito on March 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao said he hoped the Japanese people would overcome their difficulties and rebuild their homes as soon as possible. The Chinese Government and people were ready to offer necessary help, he added.
"China is also an earthquake-prone country, so we understand the hardship that Japan is experiencing now," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a press conference the same day. Japan sent a rescue team and relief materials to China after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.
The Chinese Government has pledged to provide Japan with emergency humanitarian assistance worth 30 million yuan ($4.57 million). It has also decided to offer 20,000 tons of fuel to its earthquake-ravaged neighbor.
China's first load of relief goods was delivered to Japan by a charter flight from Shanghai on March 14. The relief materials, worth 7.2 million yuan ($1.1 million), comprised 2,000 blankets, 900 cotton tents and 200 emergency lights.
The Chinese military was responsible for collecting the first shipment of relief materials and the mission was accomplished very quickly, said China's Ministry of National Defense.
In addition to the Central Government, local governments in China, such as the government of Changchun, have announced separate donations to aid Japan's quake relief operations. Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, is a sister city of earthquake-hit Sendai, capital city of Japan's Miyagi Prefecture.