sichuan earthquakeApple has donated 50 million yuan to victims of the recent Sichuan earthquakes, as well as unspecified Apple devices for local schools.

The south-western province of China has been devastated by an earthquake and thousands of aftershocks over the past few days, in which 212 were killed, 11,000 injured, and 13,000 homes were destroyed. More than 220,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

Apple made the announcement on its Chinese home page today, along with a message of condolence, saying that “our hearts are with the victims of the Sichuan earthquake,” and that Apple employees in the area would be on stand-by to help out with disaster relief efforts.

Apple needs to burnish its image in China after a recent spanking by government-owned media outlets and its ongoing failure to engage the 700-million subscriber China Mobile as an iPhone carrier. The company’s products are incredibly popular in China, and this donation and gesture should help.

Competitor Samsung donated 60 million yuan, as did Apple supplier Foxconn, and Microsoft is donating 100 million yuan.