A delegation from China's Red Cross Society on Monday showed their American counterparts and the business community in Washington how their aid has helped victims of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province.
They showed photographs of how new buildings have emerged from rubble, and smiles have replaced tears.
"The Chinese have never felt their hearts so close to each other and with the world community" before the May 12 earthquake, Jiang Yiman, the executive vice president of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), told a meeting with the American Red Cross and officials of Business Roundtable.
Jiang said the Chinese delegation's six-day visit to the United States is one of "gratitude, cooperation and friendship." The trip is aimed at briefing the American business sector, charity groups and the public that contribution to China's disaster-relief efforts and post-earthquake reconstruction in the past year.
According to official statistics, the American Red Cross pledged 50 million U.S. dollars in emergency relief following the earthquake that hit Sichuan province, leaving nearly 87,000 dead or missing, 370,000 injured and some 15 million houses damaged.
Direct corporate donations from the United States to the RCSC amounted to nearly 15 million dollars and individual donations to more than 3 million dollars, which accounted for half of the total individual donations from abroad.
"It is painful to recall the devastating earthquake that jolted southwest China on May 12, 2008," Xie Feng, deputy chief of mission of the Chinese embassy to the United States, said. "But it is touching to refresh our memories with the heroic and strong perseverance of the Chinese nation, as well as the solidarity of the international community."
Jiang said the Red Cross Society of China so far has spent some280 million dollars to build nearly 70,000 houses, 450 schools and 1,500 clinics in the earthquake-stricken region. It will continue to enhance its efforts in helping victims recover and improve the capabilities of the communities in responding to disasters.
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, who chairs the American Red Cross, said: "We are very impressed by the leadership of the Red Cross Society and are committed to working on the reconstruction, to helping build homes, and to getting people back to normal life.
"I think the American people, who have been so generous, want to know that the dollars and recourses are actually reaching the people they intended to help."
A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the Chinese and American Red Cross societies to renew cooperation over the next five years.
Jiang told reporters the agreement constitutes a general framework to boost cooperation between the two groups in disaster management, emergency response, AIDS prevention and post-disaster reconstruction.
Jiang said the trip is also aimed at renewing the friendship between the Chinese and American Red Cross societies and expressing China's appreciation toward an additional 3 million dollars in aid the U.S. Red Cross has pledged to provide for China's post-earthquake reconstruction.
Despite the current economic downturn that has hit charity fundraising in the U.S., the business sector remains optimistic about its international aid endeavors.
The executive director of the Business Roundtable, Larry Burton, said: "We are all facing economic challenges, but companies have to listen to their employees, so my sense is that even though we are facing a difficult time, the commitment to be good corporate citizens will continue."
The RCSC delegation is also scheduled to visit New York and Los Angeles where they will meet with overseas Chinese and American groups that have reached out to the earthquake victims.