|President Hu raises "quake relief spirit" banner for nation(10/08/08)|
by Xinhua writers Meng Na, Wu Chen, Yuan Ye
BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- President Hu Jintao on Wednesday urged China to carry on the spirit of unity, courage, "people first" and scientific thinking that characterized the May 12 earthquake relief effort.
At a ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to honor outstanding organizations and individuals for their contributions to the rescue and relief work, Hu said the spirit should be promoted among the Communist Party of China (CPC) members and the public.
This would help advance the sound and rapid economic and social development.
He said that in face of the major disaster, the CPC Central Committee had listed quake relief as the most important and urgent task for the Party and country as soon as possible.
Quake relief headquarters under the State Council had been set up and a system to coordinate the military and local governments had been established to mobilize the nation to advance the quake relief and reconstruction.
"We organized the fastest quake relief work with the most people mobilized in China's history, saved as many as possible lives and minimized the losses from the disaster," Hu said.
The 8.0-magnitude quake was the most destructive one since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, with more than 30,000 aftershocks, affecting 500,000 square km over more than 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, including Gansu, Shaanxi and Chongqing.
It was felt in 417 counties, 4,667 townships and 48,810 villages. It left 69,227 dead with 17,923 still missing. About 15.1 million people were displaced, Hu said.
Direct losses exceeded 845.1 billion yuan (124 billion U.S. dollars) as infrastructure was destroyed and industrial and agricultural production was affected, causing major environmental damage.
Party committees, governments, grassroots cadres and the people in quake-hit regions had responded quickly to the devastating quake, making the utmost effort to help themselves and others.
Hu praised the 146,000 troops, armed police, reservists and police which had been mobilized for the anti-quake work, describing them as the "main force" and "commandoes."
OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS, ORGANIZATIONS HONORED
Hu, also the CPC Central Committee general secretary and Central Military Commission chairman, and other senior officials, presented awards to soldiers, police, grassroots cadres, teachers, medical workers, journalists, construction workers and volunteers, among others.
A total of 319 governmental organs, Party committees, businesses and hospitals, as well as 522 individuals were honored at the ceremony attended by about 6,000 people and broadcast live nationwide.
Five of the recipients were awarded posthumously for dying in the line of duty, including 23-year-old teacher Gou Xiaochao.
Gou was in a classroom at Yong'an Village's primary school in Tongjiang County, Sichuan Province, when the whole building began shaking violently at 2:28 p.m. on May 12.
Realizing it was a strong earthquake, he herded the shocked students out of the building. His actions saved dozens of schoolchildren before he was buried in hail of concrete and bricks.
He died on the way to hospital, only 10 days after getting married.
Policewoman Jiang Min is another heroine whose story is now known all over China.
She lost 10 family members, including her two-year-old daughter and her mother, when the quake almost leveled her hometown, Beichuan County. Despite her tremendous grief, Jiang kept helping others affected in the quake.
Hu Jintao said the May earthquake was "a great test of Chinese will, courage and strength, as well as the Party's ruling capability."
"The relief work showed the great strength of the CPC and the socialist state, the great strength of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, the great strength of the reform and opening up, and the great strength of socialism with Chinese characteristics," he said.
During his speech, Hu suggested people who attended the ceremony stand in silent tribute for compatriots who died in the quake and the martyrs who sacrificed themselves in the relief work.
RECONSTRUCTION NOW A MAJOR FOCUS
Hu said the anti-quake work had again proved China's system of socialism had great vitality for development with the advantage of "concentrating strength on big events."
This proved people are the real driving force for the country's development. In addition, it proved the army is the "iron great wall" to protect the people and proved the CPC's core leadership role in developing socialism with Chinese characteristics.
"We have gained precious experience in dealing with emergencies and combating major natural disasters," Hu said.
Hu said the Sichuan quake caused huge loss of life and property and damaged economic and social development.
The quake relief work had tested and demonstrated the great achievement of the last 30 years of reform and opening up.
He stressed to fully implement the rebuilding policies after the disaster to build happy new homes for the quake-affected people, solving the problems concerned with their livelihood.
Reconstruction should be scientifically planned and carried out step by step.
"We should realize the goal of 'homes and jobs for each household, social security for everyone, improvement to local infrastructure, development of the economy and improvement to the environment,'" he said.
People's basic living conditions and public service facilities should be resumed first and the working conditions should be resumed as soon as possible.
"Currently, we should help the people get through the winter season safely."
Hu urged the quake-affected people to work hard and other regions to provide support to the rebuilding.
In addition to Hu, Chinese Party and state leaders including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, and about 6,000 people attended the ceremony.
Premier Wen, who presided over the ceremony, said the outlines and policies of the rebuilding would be well implemented.