As one of the beneficiaries of foreign aid during its own development, China has been increasing its contributions to international aid programmes over the past few years and has begun to play a bigger humanitarian role.
The enhanced role is backed by the economic might the country has built up over decades of sizzling economic growth.
Chen Jian, assistant minister of commerce, told a news conference yesterday that China actively engaged in major international emergency operations last year by providing cash, relief materials and sending medical and rescue teams to hot zones.
China offered a total of US$22.6 million in cash and aid following the Indian Ocean tsunami that struck 14 countries and killed an estimated 223,500 people in December 2004. It was the largest-ever overseas emergency relief operation in China's history.
The country was also quick to pledge US$5 million and a separate batch of relief supplies to the United States after its southern coast was battered by Hurricane Katrina in August last year.
Then China gave earthquake-hit Pakistan humanitarian relief worth US$26.7 million in October.
China's record level of humanitarian aid, though still far less than those of developed countries, has been attributed to fast economic growth over the past two decades.
While benefiting the well-being of 1.3 billion Chinese people, China's growing wealth has also enabled the nation to fund more humanitarian missions outside the country.
In recent years, natural disasters such as tsunami, earthquakes, hurricanes and droughts have been taking place more frequently, posing a grave challenge to all of humankind.
China's active involvement in recent humanitarian operations demonstrates the determination of the Chinese Government and its people to share developmental achievements with others in need, and join hands with them to overcome difficulties.
Such action is based on the strong belief that China cannot develop in isolation and that the world needs China if global prosperity is to be achieved, as has been repeatedly stated by top Chinese leaders at international events.
China has repeatedly assured other nations that its development its rapid economic growth and increasing diplomatic clout is not a threat but an opportunity for the world.
Offering humanitarian assistance is one of China's concrete steps that help to fulfil this assurance, make the nation responsible, and demonstrate that it stands for common development and global prosperity.
As its economy continues to expand on a fast track, the country is expected to be more generous in providing assistance to countries suffering from the ravages of conflict, starvation and poverty.
Certainly, China has to learn how to appropriately balance commitment and capability in order to become an experienced donor. That means the nation should play a humanitarian role that is within its power.
After all, China is still a developing country with a low per-capita GDP and has millions of unemployed in cities, and abject poverty in some rural areas.
For the foreseeable future, China will lag far behind developed, rich nations such as the United States and Japan in terms of both the scope and worth of humanitarian aid. But the country will continue to make humanitarian relief efforts.
Out of sincerity, China is willing to provide genuine help to others.