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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Wang Guangya, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, at the Launch of the UN China Appeal for Early Recovery Support to Assist Wenchuan Earthquake Victims
New York, 25 July 2008

2008/07/25

Mr. Kemal Dervis, Administrator of UNDP, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, please allow me to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, our appreciation to the United Nations for launching this appeal.

The May 12 earthquake that hit Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, with devastation and extent never seen since the founding of the People's Republic of China, presented the greatest difficulty for rescue and relief operations. The earthquake, featuring a magnitude of 8, maximum intensity of 11 and over 13,000 aftershocks, affected more than 46 million people. As of July 17, it has claimed 69,197 lives, and left 18,237 people missing, over 370,000 people injured, and about 8 million houses collapsed. The affected areas covered 440,000 square kilometers, involving 417 counties in 10 provinces or municipalities.

The Chinese government launched its rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Premier Wen Jiabao rushed to the quake zone to direct the rescue work at the earliest time possible. The State Council set up a rescue and relief commanding center to steer the post-quake endeavors, which involve a wide range of nine areas, namely rescue and disaster relief, people's daily life, seismic surveillance, epidemic prevention, publicity campaign, resumption of production, water conservation, law and order, infrastructure, and post-disaster reconstruction. The Chinese government overcame mountains of difficulties and lost no time in rescuing and treating the injured, relocating those stranded by the disaster, removing transportation obstacles, restoring communications and electric power, and defusing the threats of major secondary disasters such as "quake lakes". Efforts were also made to encourage people in the disaster areas to resume production and engage in the rescue efforts. All this helped ensure security and social stability in the affected areas.

In the wake of the earthquake, the Chinese government allocated 25 billion Chinese yuan (or around US$3.65 billion) for emergency relief and post-disaster reconstruction, and earmarked 70 billion yuan (or US$10.2 billion) to fund post-disaster recovery and reconstruction for this year. Similar arrangements will be made for the next two years. By July 15, a total of 59.059 billion yuan (or US$8.6 billion) has been invested by Chinese governments at various levels for rescue and disaster relief, of which 53.696 billion yuan (or US$7.8 billion) is from the central budget while 5.363 billion yuan (or US$800 million) is from local budgets.

During its rescue and relief operations, China has received assistance from about 170 countries and more than 20 international and regional organizations. Immediately after the earthquake, the United Nations provided to China US$8 million in emergency assistance from its Central Emergency Response Fund. On May 24, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the quake zone. He expressed condolences and support to those affected by the disaster and commended China's rescue and relief efforts. The relevant organizations and agencies of the UN also provided US$17 million worth of emergency relief supplies, including tents, medical equipment, water purification equipment, and food. The outpouring of sympathy and support from every corner of the world gives full expression to the humanitarian spirit of sharing weal and woe in times of difficulty, and lends a strong support to the Chinese government and people in their disaster relief efforts. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I hereby wish to express once again our heartfelt thanks to the UN system and the international community for the humanitarian assistance they have provided to China in the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake.

On July 3, China's State Council issued the guidelines on post-quake reconstruction. As a guiding document for post-disaster reconstruction, it lays out in explicit terms the guiding principles and main tasks for the reconstruction efforts. We will give top priority to restoring people's basic living conditions and public facilities, ensure the resumption of industrial production as soon as possible, adjust the layout of infrastructure and productivity in urban and rural areas, and gradually restore the ecological system. We will make science-based planning and integrated arrangements to ensure that reconstruction proceeds in a planned and step-by-step manner. People from all walks of life are being mobilized and various means adopted. Our goal is to complete the post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in about three years to make sure that the basic living standards of the affected people reach or surpass the level prior to the earthquake and lay a solid foundation for sustainable development in the areas.

China appreciates the launch of the UN China Appeal for Early Recovery Support to Assist Wenchuan Earthquake Victims as a complement and support to the massive post-disaster reconstruction efforts in China. China will work closely with the United Nations to make the best use of the UN assistance in the post-quake recovery and reconstruction process.

Thank you, Mr. Administrator.

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