Chinese tech firms join disaster relief efforts for Henan floods

Extreme flooding in Henan province has dominated news reports and social media in China today. The daily precipitation in Zhengzhou, Dengfeng, Xinmi, Xingyang, and Gongyi surpassed records with rainfall in these stations reaching 201.9mm according to Xinhua.

In just three days, from 17 to 20 July, 617.1 mm of rainfall was recorded in Zhengzhou, which is just below the annual average. The rain is forecast to continue with severe storms until the end of Thursday.

Blackouts in the city’s largest hospital caused chaos, while hundreds of people were trapped in a subway station last night. Over 200,000 people have been evacuated and at least 25 have died. President Xi Jinping said that that there has been a:

“significant loss of life and damage to property”.

Several of China’s tech giants have joined the mass evacuation and rescue efforts. Firms, including Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance, have announced emergency assistance for Henan, including total donations of over 1.5 billion RMB. Many have also used their technology and platforms to assist with the rescue.

Several of Alibaba’s subsidiaries have already offered their expertise: map provider AutoNavi has highlighted nearby shelters on its app. Meanwhile, logistics service Cainiao is helping to support the transportation of rescue materials, and the Henan branch of Alibaba’s group-buying business MMC has handed out 450,000 daily necessity items for free.

Life services platform Meituan will distribute items in its Zhengzhou storage warehouse for free. The first batch of 630,000 donations includes water, rice, noodles, grains, fruits and vegetables.

Smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is dispatching resources to disaster-stricken areas and all local employees have been mobilised for local rescue operations. OPPO stores will provide locals with phone lines, mobile phone charging, and water and food.

Ride-hailing service Didi, which has recently been the target of Chinese regulators, has announced that it will organise a support team in Zhengzhou. The company will recruit driver volunteers to help with the transportation of materials and medical personnel, as well as assisting with evacuation.

The flood has dominated social media with half the trending topics on Weibo related to the disaster. The hashtags which have so far gained the most traction include: “#Henan flood rescue#” (#河南暴雨救援#) with 1.79 billion views and “#multiple companies donate to aid Henan” (#多家企业捐款驰援河南#) with
580 million views.

“There is never a shortage of help in China when there is a disaster.”

“Support from all parties when one party is in trouble, this is the spirit of our country!”

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