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Top UN Official Rejects Untrue Reports About Chinese Rescue Team in Haiti

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The United Nations' top humanitarian official on Wednesday rejected as "insulting" and untrue reports about the Chinese search-and-rescue team in Haiti.

"I don't believe there is any truth in these accusations ... that the search-and-rescue teams favored international members of the community rather than Haitian nationals," John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told reporters at UN Headquarters.

"I think it was done in an overall fair way," he said.

The Chinese team "did take the lead" in looking for the missing people in the Christopher Hotel and also looked elsewhere, he said.

"I really don't think that accusation of favoritism stands up at all," he said. "I think, frankly, it is insulting to the people who were doing that ... to suggest that."

"As far as I know, they (the Chinese team) did an extremely effective job. They were present in large numbers in an early stage and rescued a significant number of people," he added.

The Chinse rescue team's performance has won laud applause from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ban, who arrived in Haiti on Sunday, spoke highly of the Chinese team's job.

On behalf of the United Nations and the international community, Ban expressed his gratitude to the Chinese rescue team, who rushed to Haiti at the earliest time possible after the quake.

On Tuesday, the Chinse Foreign Ministry also rejected accusations that the country's rescue team in Haiti searched only for Chinese nationals.

"The comment that the Chinese rescue team was only searching for Chinese nationals in Haiti is false and made out of ulterior motives," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular briefing in Beijing.

After a 7.3-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti last Tuesday, China dispatched a rescue team of about 60 people to Port-Au-Prince, capital of the Caribbean nation.

Ma said the team had found a number of bodies, including those of eight Chinese police officers, UN officers in Haiti and some others.

The Chinese team had also set up a temporary clinic near Haitian Prime Minister's compound, treating a large number of injuried Haitian people.

Huang Jianfa, leader of the Chinese international rescue team, said Tuesday that his team's rescue efforts in quake-hit Haiti have surpassed national boundaries.

"The principle of our work is to mobilize limited resources in the shortest possible time to carry out rescue operations in the most needed areas," Huang said during an interview with Xinhua.

Huang said the Chinese team would continue to engage in frontline rescue work in the following days to help more people of Haiti and the world.

"This is the duty of China as a responsible big country toward the people of the world," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2010)