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"We Are One Family," Chinese Merchants in Jordan Tell Quake Victims

"Sorry, the accountant and I are on the way to Aqaba. Would you please come to the embassy tomorrow to donate? Thanks."

That was one of many calls embassy official Wang Bo has taken from Chinese living in Jordan desperate to help their compatriots who lost everything in last week's deadly earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The quake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale hit Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province, on May 12 and has claimed more than 32,000 lives so far, according government figures.

Wang, who works at the Chinese embassy to Jordan in Amman, traveled to Aqaba, a seaport in the south end of the kingdom, on Sunday to meet a group of Chinese merchants who had organized a fundraising event for the quake victims.

Together, 29 merchants and six small companies handed over US$37,800.

From the heart

On arrival, Wang was hugged and greeted by Chinese eager to make a donation. However, a solemn silence descended on the group when someone mentioned the quake.

A young man eventually piped up, shouting, "All there is to say is that the donations are from the heart."

Another trader added, "We watched TV together and couldn't help weeping. Some even are not in the mood to run their businesses."

He was echoed by Ma Chongjing, a businessman who has lived in Aqaba for around seven years. He said, "We are willing to share everything with the victims in the homeland."

One family

The fundraiser organizer Ma Zhixiang gave a simple speech on behalf of the merchants.

"Facing such a huge disaster, we can do nothing but to donate some money to the victims. They might have lost houses, even families, but they have more compatriots standing behind them. We are their families too," he said.

The merchants come from all over China including Zhejiang, Henan, Yunnan and Shanghai, although none was from Sichuan.

"Everyone should offer a hand no matter where he or she comes from," said one young man, who had come to donate money.

"The Chinese will undoubtedly show unity to fight the disaster. I think the quake raises the rallying power among Chinese," said another merchant, "China will surely get through the hardship."

"Some merchants actually are running businesses at a loss. But everyone actively participated in the donation," said Ma.

(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2008)

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