China's rescue forces get top rating in review

China's rescue forces get top rating in review
A Z-9WZ military helicopter, designed and manufactured by China, at the military base of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Army Aviation 4th Helicopter Regiment, on the outskirts of Beijing

The performance of China's rescue forces is at a high level, ready for international and domestic emergencies, an international peer review evaluation concluded.

The China International Search & Rescue Team passed its three-day peer review on Thursday, reclaiming its expired title of "Heavy Team," the United Nations' highest international external classification.

That title means China's rescue team is officially recognised as excellent. On short notice, it can mobilize within eight hours of a request and can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours for a response assignment of up to 10 days in challenging conditions.

"In the reclassification, the performance of the Chinese team was almost perfect," said Rashid Khalikov, director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, adding that after five years, the members showed they have kept their abilities at a high level.

The China International Search & Rescue Team first received the classification in 2009, the second Heavy Team in Asia following Singapore. But every team must be re-evaluated every five years to keep the title, under UN rules.

The 480-member Chinese team has participated in 12 international rescue efforts, including the devastating earthquake in Japan in 2011.

"Both the disaster-stricken countries and other countries' rescue teams have a positive image about the Chinese rescue members," Khalikov said.

"Compared with other foreign rescue teams, the Chinese team has an outstanding feature: swift action," said Chen Hong, an expert who worked with the team during the review.

After Haiti was hit by an earthquake in 2010, the Chinese team was on the scene even before that of the US, which neighbours the Caribbean, she said.

"We have professional doctors instead of just members with some medical knowledge, as in many other countries," she said, adding that strong support from information technology and geology has boosted the Chinese team's success in international rescues.

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