China’s companies, billionaires must step up to fight Ebola: WFP

China’s companies, billionaires must step up to fight Ebola: WFP

(Reuters) – China’s corporations and billionaires have lagged behind in contributions to fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa despite vast economic ties to the region, the World Food Programme said on Monday.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the worst on record, has killed more than 4,000 people. China has contributed about million in aid to fight the disease, including million to the World Food Programme.

“Where are the Chinese billionaires and their potential impact? Because this is the time that they could really have such a huge impact,” said Brett Rierson, the organization’s representative in China, at a briefing.

“You can ask the same thing of the corporate sector, being the largest investors in West Africa right now.”

Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd., a Chinese drug maker with military ties, has sent several thousand doses of an experimental Ebola drug to Africa and is planning clinical trials there.

China has also sent hundreds of aid workers to Africa to help.

Dudley Thomas, Liberia’s ambassador to China, told Reuters his country had secured one donation of 0,000 from a large Chinese construction firm that has projects in the country, but few other contributions.

He added Liberia’s government was in talks with other large Chinese investors, including the state-owned China-Africa Development Fund, a private equity fund focusing facilitating investment between China and Africa.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc., said last week he and his wife were donating million toward combating Ebola. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged million.

China’s donation to the World Food Programme would be used to provide staple foods in the three hardest-hit countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Rierson said.

That puts China among the top donors to the organization for combating Ebola. The United States contributed .67 million and Japan gave million, Rierson said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday the country would continue to provide support.

“The Chinese government and people have followed the development of the epidemic situation and have provided four batches of aid to relevant African countries and international organizations,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The World Food Programme said it had only
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