Chinese officials have requested extra compensation for the families of Chinese students killed by the Christchurch earthquake. They say China's one-child policy means the families will face long-term economic hardship.
In a Radio New Zealand interview this morning, Cheng Lee, head of the Chinese Embassy's disaster relief efforts, explained that China's situation was very unusual due to the fact that, under Chinese law, families could only have one child per couple.
Mr Cheng believes the Chinese families deserve special consideration and should be given economic assistance above what's available under New Zealand's Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) payments. Mr Cheng said: "There is a very notable difference in terms of the family situation between the Chinese family members and other foreign family members. You can expect how lonely, how desperate they are, not only from losing loved ones, but losing almost entirely their source of economic assistance after retirement."
Tertiary Education Minister, Stephen Joyce was also interviewed by Radio New Zealand and recognised that it was a "very special and sad case" for the Chinese families as it was for all the families of international students that had been killed. He said it is likely that 70 international students at the King's English Language School had lost their lives in the earthquake along with over 10 staff. So far seven Chinese nationals have been named among the 166 confirmed dead and 24 are still missing.
The identification process is taking a long time and this is adding to the distress of families says Mr Cheng. China has sent a small group of DNA experts to New Zealand, to help speed up the process.
Mr Joyce said the New Zealand Government was working closely with all the relevant embassies and that he was personally meeting with all the families of the international students. He also highlighted a number of compensation funds that would be available to the families of those killed and that all the international students would have been insured.
"If you take the insurance, the ACC, and also what Red Cross is doing, these are not going to ever meet the loss of what is required, but these aren't inconsiderable sums," he said.
Mr Joyce said that with all the investigations currently underway it was too soon to say if special compensation might be available for any of the victims' families.