China pledges another $200 million aid to flood-hit Pak

China has said it will provide another $200 million in emergency aid to flood-hit Pakistan and dispatched four helicopters, amid prodding by the American diplomats that Beijing should "step up to the plate" and do more to help.

The announcement was made by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York on Thursday.

Mr Wen promised to offer $200 million in emergency flood aid to Pakistan in addition to the $47 million China has already sent to disaster areas in humanitarian assistance, official media here reported.

"I wish to take this opportunity to announce that China will, on top of the pledged assistance, provide another $200 million of assistance to Pakistan," Mr Wen said.

Significantly, China dispatched four of its helicopters to Pakistan few days ago for rescue operations. This is first time ever China sent its helicopters abroad, something it refrained from doing so to assist the relief operations during 2005 earthquake in Pakistan in which over 79,000 people were killed and over a lakh injured.

The US had deployed about 33 helicopters since August in Pakistan to flood relief operations, while Japan reportedly sent six choppers. In August, the US increased its aid to Pakistan by $150 million and later to $200 million and called upon China too to increase it.

"I think the Chinese should step up to the plate," special US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke had said.

His comments drew criticism from the Chinese media as well as Pakistan ambassador to China Masood Khan who termed Holbrooke's comments "not gentlemanly".

A commentary in China's state-run People's Daily also attacked Holbrooke for saying that the US is playing aid politics and even setting off donation race between India and China, apparently referring to $20 million announced by New Delhi for Pakistan flood relief.

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