Chinese leadership stands test of strong quake

Updated: 2013-04-24 23:34


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BEIJING - Chinese central government has shown capability and efficiency during the fight against crises like the H7N9 bird flu and the devastating earthquake.

The quake, which struck Lushan County in Southwest China's Sichuan province Saturday morning, is the first big natural disaster that President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have faced since coming to office about a month ago.

Chinese leadership stands test of strong quakeNow the earthquake relief has been considered a priority of the government.

Since the disaster occurred, Xi has continuously made instructions for disaster-relief work. Shortly after the quake, Xi ordered all possible measures to be taken to rescue victims and minimize deaths and injuries, emphasizing that saving lives is the top priority in the relief work.

He also ordered troops to be quickly dispatched to the front line of the quake-relief work to rescue residents and treat the injured in every possible way.

The State Council, or the cabinet, immediately launched a first-grade emergency response to the earthquake. Armed forces and aid workers from across the country flocked to the quake zone, reflecting the memories of the 2008 quake which left 87,000 people dead or missing.

The mass mobilization this time, however, is more efficient and effective compared with the 2008 quake which caused public fluster at the beginning of the disaster.

Life priority

China's new leaders have reiterated that they will put the people first, share their happiness and sufferings, and spare no pains to ensure all the Chinese people enjoy the fruits of the country's development.

The promises were proved during the fight against the quake.

Five hours after the quake occurred, Li flew to the epicenter, urging the utmost effort to save lives so long as there was one gleam of hope. After arriving at the epicenter, he had to hold a meeting late night with flashlights in a tent as the electricity supply had not yet been resumed.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the State Council and Central Military Commission have mobilized the military and civilian forces to engage in rescue and relief work immediately. No minute or even second has been delayed during the first 72 hours after the quake.

More than 19,000 troops have joined the rescue mission, working through the night to check every house in searching for survivors. As of late Monday, they have saved more than 2,800 people and relocating 24,000.

On Tuesday, China's top leadership, seven members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, paid a silent tribute to victims in the quake.

The Chinese government will continue searching for survivors and try its best to help the injured, said the statement issued after their meeting presided over by Xi.

"Life is most valuable. We will mobilize rescuers to search from door to door and make sure no corner is left," the statement said. "We will by all means avoid death caused by injuries and reduce the number of people disabled by injuries."

United power

Having gone through hardship since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the new state leaders have rich grass-root experience which enables them to deeply understand the pains and difficulties of the public and inspired them to stand firmly when facing great challenges.

President Xi on Monday expressed the nation's confidence to overcome the difficulties, saying the relief work is being carried out efficiently and orderly.

Under the leadership of the CPC and the government, and with the support from the international community, the united Chinese people are able to rebuild their homes, Xi said.

While rescuers dressed in bright orange uniforms battled their way up mountain paths to reach isolated parts of the quake zone, the public was eagerly responding to China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo with timely support, with thousands pledging to donate money or blood and others mourning the victims.

The nationwide disaster-relief campaign echoed President Xi's first public speech as Chinese president a month ago.

He called for fostering the "Chinese spirit," which features patriotism, and uniting the people as a form of "Chinese strength."

Chinese people should enhance the confidence in socialism with Chinese characteristics and make persistent efforts to realize the "Chinese dream," he said at the closing ceremony of the country's annual parliament session in March.

Compared with the quake relief five years ago, the release of information of the Lushan quake was quicker and rescuers have more advanced equipment, boosting the public sense of unity and confidence and gaining praise from the international community.

More challenges

While rescuers were racing against time to save lives, reconstruction after the quake will pose another challenge for the Chinese government.

Roads blocked by falling rocks, damaged houses and poor infrastructure in the quake zone have reflected the wide gap between urban and rural areas' development as well between different regions of China. Some people are still living in poverty, testing the government's ability to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020.

Compared with the 2008 disaster, the Lushan quake is not expected to greatly hurt China's overall economy, but the quake still delivers a hit as the economy is weakly recovering amid a lack of inner-driving force.

It requires the capability and wisdom of the new leadership to grasp the opportunities of reconstruction to develop local industries and start a new growth engine.

"It is impossible for our path of development to be plain sailing, as risks and challenges of every kind could be encountered," said a statement from the top leadership's conference Tuesday.

"Calamities always help to make a nation stronger," the statement said. "As long as we are prepared and united, we will be fully capable to deal with all complex situations and overcome every potential difficulty."

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