Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for being here with us today. Your presence remind me again, of all the kindness and generosity coming from all over the world ever since the devastating Wenchuan earthquake hit China on May 12.
Indeed, when Wenchuan earthquake shocked China, it saddened the world as a whole.
Shortly after the earthquake, the Chinese Government and people wasted no time going all out to save lives, and the international community waited no time rushing to lend a helping hand. Heartwarming words poured into China during those heartbreaking moments. International rescue workers, medical teams and volunteers joined their Chinese counterparts on the battleground. Batches of foreign relief materials and donations flowed into the quake-affected area.
Shortly after the earthquake, President Thabo Mbeki sent a letter to President Hu Jintao, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, extending heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of the People's Republic of China. Foreign Minister Dr. Zuma issued a statement, extending her deepest condolences and fully in support of international efforts for humanitarian relief. And I remember quite clearly what Minister Pahad said when he handed over a check to me on May 30, quote, " Today, South Africa, like the rest of the world, is expressing our support to the Chinese government and people following the disastrous earthquake on 12 May 2008."
Indeed, China is not alone. China is so fortunate to have so many friends in need. Standing right here with you, I cannot help but recall a famous Chinese saying, "If one is in trouble, all will help." The Chinese Government and people greatly appreciate your help.
By running this Photo Exhibition, we wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the South African Government and people, to the Chinese community in South Africa and the international community. We will never forget these friends truly in need.
Wenchuan earthquake is and will be a national trauma for China in a long time to come. Measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, it is the deadliest natural catastrophe in China in decades. The disaster-hit area covers 100,000 square km. The quake-affected population amounts to 45 million. By noon today Beijing Time, it was declared that nearly 70,000 people had lost their lives, more than 18,000 were still missing, and almost 374,000 injured. Since May 12, a total of more than 19,000 aftershocks have been detected.
Rebuilding the quake-hit area is no easy task. We are fully aware of the daunting challenges ahead. But with the whole world standing by our side, the Chinese people do not lack any courage or confidence. We are a strong people. With your help, we become even stronger.
Thanks to your help, the Chinese people have already come a long way in recovering from the disaster, though we know well we still have long ways to go.
As of today, the government disaster relief fund has topped more than 9 billion U.S. dollars, and domestic and foreign donations in cash and goods has reached almost 9 billion U.S. dollars. The Chinese Government will spend more than 10 billion U.S. dollars to rebuild the quake-hit area each year through 2008-2010.
As of today, relief workers have built 546,000 temporary houses and another 14,000 were being installed, with 34,000 to be built.
As of today, about 261,000 tonnes of grain, 9,000 tonnes of edible oil, 1.6 million tents, 4.9 million quilts, 14 million garments, 2.2 million tonnes of fuel oil and 4.7 million tonnes of coal have been sent to the quake-hit areas.
As of today, 137,000 quake-affected people have been organized to work outside of the quake zone, while another 619,000 people have found jobs in their hometown.
The devastating earthquake has destroyed the Wenchuan area, but the world has every reason to see a new Wenchuan rise from debris in the near future.