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Remarks by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the Ministerial Meeting on Regional Cooperation on Tsunami Early Warning Arrangements
Phuket, Thailand, 29 January 2005


Mr. Chairman,
Dear colleagues,

Please allow me to express once again, on behalf of the Chinese Government, our deep condolences to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and profound sympathy to their families.

This is a disaster for the entire mankind. The international community has responded forcefully and showed unprecedented solidarity and humanity.

Natural disasters stop at national boundaries and pose a threat to all of us. It is high time that we put in place an effective regional early warning system and enhance international and regional cooperation in this area.

We are glad to see that from the special ASEAN leaders' meeting in Jakarta to the International Meeting of Small Island Developing States in Mauritius, and from the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Japan to the China-ASEAN Workshop on Tsunami Warning in Beijing, a clear consensus is reached on the establishment of a regional warning system and important initiatives have been proposed.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, on the island of Phuket, one of the tsunami-afflicted areas, we have come together to explore effective ways to establish mechanisms for the monitoring, prevention and assessment of major natural disasters. This important meeting marks a major and concrete step forward in disaster relief and reconstruction in the great continent of Asia. My Government of China highly appreciates the Thai Government's efforts to host this meeting, and is ready to work with all sides to make the meeting productive.

Mr. Chairman,
Dear colleagues,

Cooperation and coordination is key to an effective regional tsunami warning system. The UN should continue its leading and coordinating role and ASEAN should be the key player, building upon existing mechanisms in this region. It is important to pool resources, identify priorities, and take an incremental approach. All parties should fully consult each other in setting up this regional warning system.

Capacity building is another essential element for an effective warning system. Given the vulnerability of developing countries, the international community should lose no time in helping them with capacity building in this area. Capacity building should be sustained and well planned. It requires sustainable financial support from the international community. The Voluntary Trust Fund proposed by the Thai Government is commendable. The international community should help developing countries build their capacity by advancing cooperation in poverty reduction, infrastructure building, education and training, and human resources development.

Mr. Chairman,

The deeper and longer we recall the pain, the sooner and stronger the remedy comes. We must realize that post-disaster reconstruction is a lengthy and daunting task. Today's meeting in Phuket is a good start for all of us.

Disaster reduction and reconstruction calls on the international community to translate its words into action and ensure efficient, orderly and sustained flow of assistance. The international community has already pledged more than 4 billion US dollars. It is time to deliver and start getting our job done.

Disaster reduction and reconstruction should be pragmatic. It should meet the actual needs and respect the will of the affected countries, ensure their ownership and help them rebuild their homes and achieve economic recovery. Special attention should be given to such vulnerable groups as women, children and indigenous people.

Disaster reduction and reconstruction should deploy advanced scientific and technological tools, such as satellite remote sensing, information network and early warning system and so forth. This is a long journey. We must act now and stand fast.

Mr. Chairman,

In the wake of the devastating tsunami, China has expressed her profound sympathy for the people affected. Government contribution and private donation from China has exceeded 1.2 billion RBM yuan and a large number of Chinese relief and medical workers have been fielded. Pledges made by Premier Wen Jiabao at the special ASEAN leaders' meeting in Jakarta will be honored in a timely manner.

Furthermore, seminars have been organized to encourage the Chinese business community to participate in the reconstruction. China has decided to consider relieving official debt for the worst hit countries.

My coutnry has proposed the establishment of a regional mechanism for monitoring, preventing and evaluating major natural disasters in order to help affected countries to build earthquake and tsunami monitoring and early warning networks. A few days ago, at the China-ASEAN Workshop on Earthquake-generated Tsunami Warning in Beijing we shared experiences and expertise with participants from this region for disaster prevention and preparedness.

Mr. Chairman,
My colleagues,

We are deeply touched by the bravery and resolve of people in Phuket to stand on their feet and start again. We have every reason to believe that people in the affected regions will build even better homes.

Thank you.

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