Truck loaded with disinfectant and local specialties from Golmud, northwest China's Qinghai Province, arrive at Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, on Feb. 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Ye Xu)
The goods were a symbol of the 10-year friendship between Wenzhou and Golmud. They would be distributed to the frontline in the fight against the epidemic as soon as possible: Wenzhou city government official
by Xinhua writers Lyu Qiuping, Wang Junlu and Yin Xiaosheng
HANGZHOU, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Since 2010, the coastal city of Wenzhou in east China has provided funds, goods and personnel to support the development of the inland city of Golmud in the west, part of a national effort to pair up the two regions in aiding less developed areas.
Ten years on, with Wenzhou as one of the worst-hit cities by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Golmud volunteered to give back, reversing the aid route to help its pairing city pull through.
Traversing 3,600 km of the country, 18 trucks loaded with disinfectant and local specialties arrived at Wenzhou on Monday, applauded by local residents who treated the delivery team with noodles and donated goods like brown sugar worth 65,000 yuan (around 9,300 U.S. dollars).
"To race against time, we drove from 7 a.m. to midnight every day, slept in the trucks in the service area and never drove off the expressway," said Tuo Xiucai, one of the 43 team members.
The entire trip covering six provinces took six days and five nights.
Wang Hao, an official with the Wenzhou city government in charge of the pairing-up aid, said the goods were a symbol of the 10-year friendship of the pair. They would be distributed to the frontline in the fight against the epidemic as soon as possible.
Wenzhou, a commercial hub in Zhejiang Province, is one of the most affected cities in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases apart from those in the hardest-hit Hubei Province.
According to health authorities, the overall confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland had reached 74,185 by the end of Tuesday, including 504 cases in Wenzhou.
Golmud is not the only area in west China making donations.
In Xinjiang's Aksu, where Wenzhou has poured 350 million yuan into dozens of projects, hundreds of fruit handlers and farmer volunteers loaded 1,631 boxes of apples, 890 boxes of pears, 400 boxes of dates and 320 boxes of walnuts onto trucks and had them delivered to Wenzhou on Sunday.
Qingchuan County in Sichuan Province, where Wenzhou supported the reconstruction of three townships following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, donated 300,000 yuan. Fuling District of Chongqing Municipality delivered 10 tonnes of pickles and 35,000 boxes of traditional Chinese medicine.
To date, Wenzhou has received 3.14 million yuan and 540 tonnes of goods from its pairing areas.
Pairing-up assistance plays an important role in China's development. The pairing of developed and underdeveloped, disaster-hit and other areas is almost ubiquitous in the country. Under such a framework, capital, skilled workers and other resources have been channeled to the country's vast western regions including Tibet and Xinjiang, to help the reconstruction of quake-stricken areas in Sichuan, and anti-poverty campaigns across China.
After the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that was initially reported in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, provincial-level regions paired up with cities across Hubei to provide medical aid, with a massive influx of medics, equipment and supplies pouring in.
This ability to "concentrate resources to solve major problems," as Chinese often describe it, is a notable advantage of China's socialist system that has helped the country overcome major challenges over the past several decades.
Apart from donations, a letter on behalf of the Qingchuan county government was delivered to Wenzhou.
"Like the mountain and the sea looking at each other, Wenzhou and Qingchuan are like loving brothers. We believe Wenzhou people will definitely defeat the epidemic," it said. ■