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Chinese LA Consulate Lauded for Coordinating Overseas Aid for Quake Victims

The Chinese Consulate has served as a donation center to collect relief aid for quake victims in China, said a report of the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.

Since the deadly Sichuan earthquake on May 12, the consulate has emerged as an unlikely galvanizing force for Southern California's thriving ethnic Chinese community united to aid the quake victims, commented the report.

Some prominent Chinese American organizations have held fundraisers, with the proceeds going not to a third-party nonprofit but directly to the consulate, it said.

The report praised the consulate for being more savvy in crafting a public relations message and seizing on the consulate's status as a gateway to some of China's business opportunities.

As part of the mobilization to assist in earthquake relief efforts, the office's 40 employees are regularly working 18-hour shifts, said the report.

Consular officials have also attended a concert fundraiser at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse and a candlelight vigil in Monterey Park's Barnes Park to accept donations as well as a news conference for the Panda Restaurant Group donation, the report said.

"The diplomats today have more freedom and flexibility to engage with the community," Philip Young, president of the Los Angeles Chinese American Citizens Alliance, told the newspaper.

In the last few years, consulate officials have arranged visits to China for Chinatown leaders, offered assistance to companies trying to do business in China and regularly had officials attend major cultural events.

Isadora Chen, a spokeswoman for the consulate, told the newspaper that officials now see themselves as being part of the community.

"We want to do something for the overseas Chinese and mainstream communities. We work as a bridge, and I think we're doing that very well," said Chen.

(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2008)

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