The Chinese government is stepping up its international humanitarian efforts in Africa, sending almost $5 million-worth of medical supplies to the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. This as China tests another eight individuals that have shown symptoms of the deadly virus.
Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports that medical supplies arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone from China on Monday, and the aid kit included a number of indispensable hospital supplies including “personal protective gears, gloves and glasses as well as chlorine and other medicines to help fight the disease.” In addition to the medical supplies arriving in Sierra Leone, the Chinese government has promised “it would dispatch three expert teams and medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
China’s international reputation for humanitarian aid is among the worst of the globe’s superpowers. As Quartz reports, the new shipment of millions of dollars in medical supplies and workers could be the beginnings of an attempt to reshape that reputation. Only 0.4% of China’s foreign aid goes directly to humanitarian causes, rather that infrastructure projects or business efforts that could serve to improve nations’ trade with China as much as it could help the nations themselves. In Africa, particularly, China’s actions have appeared self-rewarding rather than altruistic.
Here, too, the shadow of personal benefit surfaces. China is estimated to have 20,000 citizens living and working in the three countries most directly affected by Ebola, and as such as a first-hand interest in combatting the outbreak before it becomes a full-fledged epidemic. Should any of these nationals return to Chinese soil with the virus, the potential spread of such a disease in the urban communities of China could potentially result in the deaths of thousands, if not millions.
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