As early as last April, the World Health Organization (WHO) was warning that the Ebola outbreak in west Africa was the “most chilling” they had seen, and that an international effort would be required to contain it. Following an announcement that the United States would be sending millions in aid to the region, the Chinese government is adding more to its tally.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced this week that the government of China, which had donated millions to the fight months before, will be sending a new dispatch of $32.54 million dollars (200 million yuan) to the countries affected in west Africa–Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea–according to state news outlet Xinhua. The aid, the news agency reports, will arrive in the form of “cash, food, and materials.” In addition to the $32 million to the nations themselves, China will donate $2 million to the WHO and $2 million to the African Union.
In addition to monetary assistance, the Chinese government has sent aid workers to the ailing nations: a team of 59 workers, including 30 doctors, to Sierra Leone to help assist with Ebola treatment and containment. Sierra Leone, among the nations most ravaged by the disease, is currently in the midst of a three-day complete lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
This is not the first time China sends aid to combat the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. In August, the Asian nation sent nearly $5 million worth of medical supplies to the three most-affected countries, including “personal protective gears, gloves and glasses as well as chlorine and other medicines to help fight the disease.” The equipment arrived with three “expert teams” meant to help distribute the aid and help health workers on the ground.
China has been working for months to establish itself as a viable trading partner with the African continent. In addition, a number of Chinese nationals live in the affected region; in Freetown, Sierra Leone, “dozens” of businesses across the city are Chinese-run–from restaurants to construction firms. Given the dangerously slow economy in Sierra Leone even without the Ebola outbreak, many fear a complete collapse if the few who invest in the country, many of them Chinese, decide to leave.
China’s contributions to the fight against Ebola, while given sooner than the United States’ contributions, may still be overshadowed in magnitude by the U.S., as President Obama has called for the deployment of 3,000 troops and $88 million to invest in preventative care and new anti-Ebola medication.