|Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong Spoke at the Chinese Embassy Reception "Sichuan Earthquake: Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction"(07/25/08)|
On July 24th , the Chinese Embassy in the United States held a reception with the theme of "Sichuan Earthquake: Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction", at which Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong delivered a speech.
Ambassador Zhou opened his remarks by warmly welcome and sincere thanks to the presence of Madame Fore, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) and other American friends from the U.S. government, business and community and non-governmental humanitarian organizations, among other circles.
As Ambassador Zhou recalled, the massive earthquake struck Wenchuan on May 12th, caused enormous casualty and losses. This was the worst earthquake in China in almost 60 years in the damage caused, areas affected and difficulties of relief operation. In face of the crisis, the Chinese Government responded immediately and led the Chinese public in a united effort to minimize the damages, save lives, resettle the survivors, prevent epidemics and release updated information on damages and losses. President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other Chinese leaders were at the forefront, leading and directing the relief operations. The people from all over the country came forward with assistance and helped minimized the damages of the disaster.
"In the moment of need", Ambassador Zhou said, "the international community reached out to us with a helping hand. Countless messages of sympathy, donations and relief materials flowed to Sichuan, China from all corners of the world. To date, China has received altogether 58 billion RMB yuan of donation in cash and kind from home and abroad. (That is approximately 8.5 billion US dollars.) All these donations will be used in the earthquake affected provinces according to the relevant regulation of the Chinese Government. The priority will be the projects relating to the livelihood of the people. Thanks to the strenuous efforts of the Government and people of China and the tremendous support and assistance from the international community, the damage control and relief operations have achieved major victory. About 1.5 million stranded survivors have been rescued and resettled, over 2.8 million injured and sick have been treated, and over 9 million people have received emergency relief aid from the government. Water and power supply have resumed and transportation and telecommunication facilities have been restored. Life in the disaster areas is gradually moving back on track."
"An important part of the enormous international relief efforts came from the United States Government, Congress, business communities, think tanks, media, local governments, Chinese communities and students. President Bush and Mrs. Bush visitied the Chinese Embassy to express condolences to the victims of the earthquake. Also, President Bush attended and addressed the roundtable discussion entitled "America Responds to the China Earthquake" at the American Red Cross Headquarters. Secretary Rice visited the earthquake-hit areas while she was in China, and Administrator Fore led a joint US Government, business and NGO delegation on a fact-finding trip to Sichuan to assess the damages and explore cooperation with the Chinese side in post-disaster reconstruction. Chinese people are deeply moved by the outpouring of sympathy and tremendous efforts from our American friends, including the huge donations in cash and kind from companies affiliated with the US-China Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, and the staff of these companies; the presence of Heart to Heart International staff in the disaster-hit areas shortly after the earthquake struck; a whole plane-load of relief materials sent by Samaritan's Purse in the first-ever NGO special airlift in the world; a team of specialists from the Shock Trauma Center of the University of Maryland who helped save lives in China; the heartwarming care from the National Zoo for nature's treasure - the giant panda; and the generous donations from the Chinese American communities and Chinese students," Ambassador Zhou stated.
"As is so well put by President Bush, the American people have been unprecedented and unparalleled in their compassion and their response to this challenge because the American people care for the people of China. In his words, When a brother and sister hurts, we care about it. This is an excellent portrayal of the good will and friendship between Chinese and American peoples. The compassion and generosity of the US Government and the American people are highly respected and appreciated by the people in the earthquake-hit areas and throughout China," Ambassador Zhou stressed. And on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, he expressed heartfelt gratitude to all of you, to the US Government and the American people.
"The focus of the relief operations has now shifted to recovery and reconstruction, and the tasks are enormous. The State Council of China has released the Regulations on Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and the Guidelines Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Work. According to these documents, the main task of rehabilitation and reconstruction will be basically completed in three years, and, on this basis, economic and eco-environmental recovery will take a few more years. The Government of China will earmark 70 billion yuan this year to launch a post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction fund, which will continue to receive replenishments in the coming two years. There will also be a reduction of 5% from the current public spending budgets of all the Central Government institutions. The fund generated from this reduction will be used for earthquake relief. To accelerate the recovery and reconstruction process, the Chinese Government has also launched a twinning assistance program, whereby a province outside the disaster area is paired with and designated to assist a hard-hit county. Nineteen provinces and municipalities, including Guangdong and Beijing are paired with 18 counties or cities in Sichuan and the hard-hit areas in Gansu and Sha'anxi provinces", Ambassador Zhou said. He also said that he was confident that with the strong leadership of the Chinese government, with the concerted efforts of people throughout the country, and with the heartwarming support and assistance from the international community, Chinese people will surely prevail over the disaster and rebuilt beautiful home.
"With the reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas, Chinese people deeply appreciate the care, support and participation from the American people, and welcome the participation through the Public Private Partnership that is designed to benefit all parties. As soon as the making of the reconstruction program is officially completed, the Chinese side will release it to USAID, the American business community and organizations. The US side will find a list of projects to choose from. The relevant authorities in China will be ready to work closely with the US side to ensure the smooth implementation of the assistance projects that will be chosen. The cooperation in Sichuan earthquake reconstruction will take the business exchanges and cooperation between our two countries and the friendship between our peoples to a new level, and further enhance the constructive and cooperative China-US relationship" Ambassador Zhou pointed out.
Ambassador Zhou concluded his speech by stressing that, "the Sichuan earthquake imposed tremendous sufferings on the Chinese people. But the devastation also made Chinese people stronger. In two weeks, the Olympics Games will begin in Beijing. As the Government and people of China continue to battle the devastation of the Sichuan earthquake with relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts, China is fully prepared, with enormous enthusiasm and hard work, to host a special and high-standard Olympic Games. Beijing is ready. China warmly welcome all friends to Beijing."