|Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative of China Ambassador Zhang Yishan at Resumed Meeting of UNGA 59th Session on Post-earthquake and Tsunami Issues|
|(New York, 18 January 2005)|
At the outset, please allow me to express once again, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, our deepest condolences to the victims and the most sincere sympathy to those who lost loved ones in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster on 26 December last year.
The Indian Ocean tsunami is a disaster for the entire mankind. The international community has made positive and strong responses with an unprecedented global humanitarian emergency relief effort. The United Nations, on its part, has played an important role of leadership and coordination in this regard. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the involving UN agency chiefs conducted timely inspections and provided guidance in the disaster-hit areas. The Secretary-General also attended the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami and made, on behalf of the United Nations, urgent appeals to the international community for post-disaster reconstruction.
It is very timely for us to review the draft resolution on "Strengthening emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and prevention in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster" submitted by Laos at today's resumed meeting of the 59th UNGA session on post-earthquake and tsunami issues. This meeting has provided the Member States an opportunity of pooling their wisdom to help the affected countries and further reflecting mankind's humanitarian spirit of pulling together in times of adversity. The Chinese Delegation supports the convocation of this meeting and hopes that the above draft resolution will be passed through consensus.
Since China is a natural disaster-prone developing country, we have a profound understanding of the damages and sufferings of the affected people. As a friendly neighbor of the afflicted countries, we have been filled with anxiety and sympathy for their plight. In the wake of the catastrophe, the Chinese Government immediately launched its emergency mechanism and started a foreign disaster relief operation, the largest ever in China's history. China pledged USD 2.6 million of assistance on the very next day. Later on, in view of further developments, the Chinese Government committed to contributing another USD 60.5 million and is giving positive consideration to relieving and reducing the due governmental debts of the hardest-hit countries. Individual donations by the general public in China have exceeded USD 12.1 million, including those from the elderly and children. An old man who is more than 80 years old visited the local Red Cross office twice to contribute his meager pension. A six-year old pupil led by his mother donated more than 1,000 RMB coins he saved over the past few years. And some young people went to the ambassadors of affiliated countries in China to send their contributions and expressed their sympathies. In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), more than 500 million HK dollars have been raised. In addition, the Chinese Government has dispatched medical and rescue teams to the affected areas at the shortest notice. The Macao SAR has also sent a rescue team to the disaster-hit area.
At the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami, Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the Chinese Government would respond to the UN appeal with a donation of USD 20 million for multilateral relief and reconstruction efforts within the UN framework. At the UN Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Assistance to Tsunami Affected Communities held in Geneva, the Chinese Government confirmed that the donation will be contributed, via the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to the UN agencies including UNDP, WHO, WFP, FAO, UNICEF, UNFPA and IOM for their operations of emergency relief, post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction. The Chinese side will consult with the Office on a detailed program to distribute the aid and, in light of the needs of the affected countries, give priority to sanitation, drinking water, education and infrastructure restoration. We also hope that our contribution can be added to the UN support for setting up an early warning and response mechanism for regional disasters.
As a Chinese saying goes, "when one place is in trouble, assistance comes from all quarters". The Indian Ocean tsunami disaster again shows us that closer international and regional cooperation serves as an effective means to cope with natural disasters. The Chinese Government would like to join all governments in a concerted effort to help the affected countries fight against disasters, rebuild their homes and restore their life to normality.
Thank you, Mr. President.