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Taiwan government declines relief aid from China, foreign countries

2018/02/08 20:37:01

Alex Huang (黃重諺, CNA file photo)

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's central government on Thursday declined disaster relief aid from China and other countries, with the exception of Japan, in the wake of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake which struck Hualien County in eastern Taiwan late Tuesday, causing loss of life and serious property damage.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Taiwan has sufficient rescue personnel and supplies at its disposal.

The central government only accepted Japan's offer to send a 7-member specialist team to Hualien because it has high tech body-heat detection equipment Taiwan does not possess that can help rescue more survivors, according to Huang.

The Japanese team arrived in Taiwan at about 2 p.m. Thursday.

Huang made the comment after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed appreciation earlier that day on her Twitter account for the expressions of sympathy and blessings extended by countries around the world, including the United States, Japan, China, and the European Union in the wake of the earthquake.

"Taiwan is grateful for the many offers of assistance and support coming from around the world. Although relief efforts in Hualien are more than sufficient, your warmth & kindness have been felt by the people of Taiwan," Tsai tweeted.

When asked whether the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency in charge of China policy, will accept disaster relief assistance from China, Huang said that Taiwan has ample rescue personnel and other supplies, "We, hereby, decline all offers of relief aid," he added.

However, Huang's statement applied only to the central government and its agencies, which apparently left the door open for such donations to private organizations and Hualien County government.

For example, China's Red Cross Society has pledged a donation of 1 million yuan (US$159,107) to its counterpart in Taiwan for disaster relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), China's semi-official body that handles cross-strait affairs, Fujian Provincial government and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government will each donate 1 million yuan to help relief efforts, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said Thursday.

(By Yeh Su-ping, Lin Ke-lun, Miao Zong-han and Evelyn Kao)