China to Establish Disaster Relief Force
BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Whether it's flooding in Ili of Xinjiang or hailstone in Jiangxi, tents needed for the homeless and clothing for the destitute are delivered at the earliest possible time.
%u3000%u3000The quick response to the emergency calls in the two places last year shows the Chinese government can now react much faster to natural disasters.
%u3000%u3000With the Ministry of Civil Affairs Ministry coordinating, the State Development Planning Commission, the People's Bank of China and ministries of finance, water resources, agriculture, communications, public health and education have united to form a powerful disaster relief force.
%u3000%u3000Their team-up constitutes the country's most dynamic "emergencysquad" whose task is to minimize the losses inflicted upon victims.
%u3000%u3000In March this year, the Chinese army formally added disaster relief training to its set of compulsory courses.
%u3000%u3000To strengthen the nation's capability to handle emergencies, various disaster-relief schemes are being mapped out across the country, especially in those regions vulnerable to natural calamity.
%u3000%u3000Zhang Xiaoning, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs in charge of disaster relief, said, "Reacting quickly so that relief materials can arrive at the disaster areas as fast as possible has become increasingly important."
%u3000%u3000As the national economy continues to grow, people face fewer difficulties in rebuilding homes and restarting production, Zhang said.
%u3000%u3000Their biggest obstacle is surviving the one or two days immediately after the disaster occurs when it is hard to find shelter and food, he added.
%u3000%u3000Li Baojun, another official with the ministry, said, "An improved capability in dealing with emergencies and providing daily necessities has a direct impact on social stability and economic reconstruction in disaster areas."
%u3000%u3000To ensure the assembled force to work in harmony and perform its best, a nationwide information system on disasters has been set up.
%u3000%u3000According to Li, the system can give a real-time monitoring of the country's natural calamities, produce a disaster report within24 hours, recommend relief schemes and even make a detailed recordof the measures taken by local governments. %u3000%u3000
%u3000%u3000China has also established eight central government-administered warehouses in Shenyang, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xi'an to store disaster-relief materials, along with a national donation network of 237 receptionstations.
%u3000%u3000"Although the storage of disaster-relief materials has increased rapidly, the money spent on the improvement of China's capability to handle disasters is only 10 percent of the country'stotal relief fund. A lot more should be put in," Li said.
%u3000%u3000Because of its natural conditions, China is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to every kind of natural disaster, with the exception of volcano eruptions.
%u3000%u3000Statistics reveal that between 1994 and 2001, a total of 18.63 billion yuan (2.24 billion U.S. dollars) was allocated by the central government to meet the basic needs of victims of disasters,72.7 million people were transferred or relocated and 100 million yuan (12.05 million dollars) of both individual property and stateassets were rescued.
%u3000%u3000The latest reports from water resource departments warn that continuous rainfall has exposed central China's Hunan Province, where extra heavy flooding occurred in 1998, once again to a new round of flooding.
%u3000%u3000In Yueyang City alone, some 5,000 cadres, 23,000 members of thepublic and 300 vehicles have been moved to the front-line to fightthe floods.
%u3000%u3000Will they succeed?
%u3000%u3000"We stand in combat readiness," Zhang said. Enditem