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PRC State Council Information Office, "China's Actions for Disaster Prevention and Reduction," May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009
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In recent years, natural disasters happened frequently around the world and have caused enormous losses of life and property to human society. They pose a common challenge to all the countries in the world.

China suffers the most natural disasters of all countries. Along with global climate changes and its own economic takeoff and progress in urbanization, China suffers increasing pressure on resources, environment and ecology. The situation in the prevention of and response to natural disasters has become more serious and complicated.

Always placing people first, the Chinese government has all along put the security of people's lives and property on the top of its work, and has listed the disaster prevention and reduction in its economic and social development plan as an important guarantee of sustainable development. In recent years, China has been comprehensively implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development, further strengthened legislation as well as the building of systems and mechanisms on dis-aster prevention and reduction, committed to building on disaster-prevention capacities, encouraged public contribution, and actively participated in international cooperation in this respect.

The devastating Wenchuan earthquake, which occurred on May 12, 2008, caused massive human casualties and property losses, and caused immeasurable sufferings to the Chinese people. In the wake of the disaster, the Chinese government decided to make May 12 "Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day," starting in 2009. This document has been written to mark the one year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake and greet China's first "Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day," with a review of the endeavors the Chinese government and people have made in disaster prevention and reduction.

I. NATURAL DISASTERS IN CHINA

The natural disasters that China suffers from most have the following characteristics:

1. Diverse types. They include meteorological disasters, earthquakes, geological disasters, marine disasters, biological disasters, and forest and grassland fires. Except for modern volcanic activity, China has suffered from most types of natural disasters.

2. Wide scope of distribution. Natural disasters cause damages in different degrees to all of China's provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government). More than 70 percent of Chinese cities and more than 50 percent of the Chinese population are located in areas vulnerable to serious earthquakes, or meteorological, geological or marine disasters. Two-thirds of China's land are threatened by floods. Tropical cyclones often batter the eastern and southern coasts, and some inland places. Droughts often occur in the northeast, northwest and north, with particularly serious ones common in southwest and south China. Destructive earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or more on the Richter Scale have struck all the country's provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities). The mountainous and plateau areas, accounting for 69 percent of China's total land territory, suffer frequent landslides, mud-rock flows and cliff collapses due to complicated geological conditions.

3. High frequency. Its monsoon climate has a strong impact on China, and causes frequent meteorological disasters. Local or regional droughts occur almost every year, while tropical cyclones, seven times a year on average, batter the east coast. As China lies right in the region where the Eurasian, Pacific and Indian Ocean plates meet, it suffers from frequent earthquakes due to still-active tectonic movements. Most of the quakes shaking China are continental, accounting for one-third of global destructive land quakes. Fires often break out in forests and on grasslands.

4. Huge losses. During the 19 years from 1990 to 2008, on annual average, natural disasters affected about 300 million people, destroyed more than three million buildings, and forced the evacuation of more than nine million people. The direct financial losses caused exceeded 200 billion yuan. Floods in the Yangtze, Songhua and Nenjiang river valleys in 1998, serious droughts in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in 2006, devastating floods in the Huaihe River valley in 2007, extreme cold weather and sleet in south China in early 2008, and the earthquake that shook Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi and other places on May 12, 2008 all caused tremendous losses.

Now and for a fairly long time to come, the risks of extreme weather phenomena are increasing along with global climate changes. Owing to imbalanced distribution of precipitation, unusual temperature changes and other factors, the occurrences of floods and droughts, hot weather and heat waves, low-temperature rain, snow and sleet, forest and grassland fires, and plant diseases and insect and animal pests may grow in number. The probability of strong and extra-strong typhoons, tempests and other disasters is quite high. The tasks of guarding against and preventing such geological disasters as mountain torrents, landsides and mud-rock flows brought about by heavy rains remain weighty. In addition, as a result of the earth's crustal movements, the danger of earthquakes is increasing.

II. STRATEGIC GOALS AND TASKS FOR DISASTER REDUCTION

In the National 11th Five-year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction and other documents issued in recent years, the Chinese government has made clear its medium- and long-term strategic goals during the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010) and the ensuing years: to build a relatively complete working system and operational mechanisms regarding disaster reduction; to greatly enhance the capabilities related to disaster monitoring and early warning, prevention and preparation, emergency handling, disaster relief, and rehabilitation and reconstruction; to notably raise public awareness of disaster reduction and emergency rescue skills; and to significantly reduce human casualties and direct economic losses caused by natural disasters.

The main tasks are as follows:

— To strengthen capability in management over hidden risks of natural disasters and relevant information. Based on a general survey of hid-den risks of major natural disasters in key areas, and the overall prevention and reduction capabilities of the nation, China will build a database of the risks of natural disasters, and draw up a national diagram of the situations in high-risk and key areas. It will also build a system for collecting statistics about disasters and the damage inflicted, and a reporting system covering the national, provincial, municipal and county levels. It will improve the mechanisms of prompt news release, check on disaster damage, and the work on information exchange, consultation and announcement. A platform for the sharing and re-leasing of disaster information will be established, and the analysis, appraisal and application of disaster information be reinforced.

— To strengthen capability in the monitoring, early warning and fore-casting of natural disasters. While improving the existing monitoring network, China will increase the monitoring density and launch a satellite remote-sensing monitoring system, thus building a three-dimensional monitoring platform for natural disasters. It will promote the comprehensive utilization and integrated development of monitoring and early warning infrastructures, and improve the supporting systems in the field of disaster warning, forecasting and decision-making. Particular efforts will be made to strengthen the capability of monitoring, early warning and forecasting extreme weather and serious frequently-occurred disasters. A mechanism to issue disaster risk warnings will be put in place using various channels of communication to accurately and promptly release disaster information.

— To strengthen overall capability to prevent and combat natural disasters. Efforts will be made to carry out various plans concerning disaster prevention and reduction, construct pillar projects, and raise the disaster combat capabilities of large and medium-sized industrial bases, transportation trunk lines, communication hubs and lifeline projects. In line with the national land utilization plan and principle of economical and intensive use of land, the government will make an overall plan in respect of disaster reduction concerning agriculture and rural areas, industry and urban areas, as well as specialized disaster prevention and reduction plans and construction of relevant projects in key areas, so as to enhance the country's overall disaster prevention capacity in all aspects.

— To strengthen the state capacity for emergency rescue and relief work. A coordinated and efficient disaster emergency management system will be built, characterized by unified command, sound coordination, clear division of work, and level-by-level control with local authorities playing the main role. This will form, by and large, an emergency relief system covering all aspects. The construction of disaster combat and relief materials reserve network, at central and local levels, will be strengthened; the transportation capacity of relief materials will be raised; various backbone or professional rescue contingents will be consolidated; and disaster reduction and relief equipment will be improved. Social mobilization mechanisms are to be improved to give full play to the functions of non-governmental organizations and organizations at the grassroots level as well as volunteers in the sphere of disaster relief.

— To strengthen capability in consolidating flood control in various river valleys. Adhering to the principles of overall planning, sound co-ordination and comprehensive solution of both root causes and symptoms, a complete flood control and disaster prevention system will be built to guarantee the safety of river valleys. The system will take embankment construction as the basis, backed up by key water control projects on mainstreams and tributaries, flood storage areas and dredged watercourses, as well as levees, lakeside lands returned from farming to water, and water and soil conservation efforts, in addition to non-project measures such as flood and drought control command systems, coordination measures and flood risk management.

— To strengthen capability in comprehensive response to disastrous calamities. By studying the mechanism of occurrence and law of activity of disastrous calamities, and their relations with secondary disasters, China will conduct simulation experiments of massive disaster variations and emergency responses to disastrous calamities. It will build and improve relevant systems and mechanisms, work out policies and emergency response plans against disastrous calamities, and conduct drills to combat them. It will also spread pilot insurance schemes in agriculture and forestry, and introduce, based on national conditions, insurance and re-insurance against devastating disasters. It will strengthen efforts in the construction of projects against huge disasters, and establish an Asian regional disaster research center.

— To strengthen urban and rural community capability in coping with disasters. China will improve the emergency response plans for urban and rural communities, and train the residents against such dangers. Urban and rural emergency facilities will be improved, and model communities will be established throughout the country. Housing safety projects in both rural and urban areas will be built. Shelters will be built where disasters are prone to occur. Community disaster re-porters will be nominated, urban and rural residents will be educated to prevent and deal with disasters, and a mechanism to protect disadvantaged community groups will be built.

— To strengthen the scientific and technological support capability in the fields of disaster prevention and reduction. China will fortify the research and development of key technologies, and study and work out national medium- and long-term strategies for scientific and techno-logical development in coping with natural disasters. It will quicken the application of remote-sensing, geographical information system, global positioning system, and network communication technologies. It will invest more funds in scientific and technological development against disasters, support the construction of relevant disciplines and the fostering of skilled people, and build personnel training bases. It will also introduce relevant technological standards, and standardize disaster prevention and reduction operations.

— To strengthen capability in scientific publicity and education concerning disaster reduction. China will heighten the sense of duty of local governments at various levels in disaster reduction. Knowledge related to disaster reduction will be incorporated in school textbooks, and provided to rural residents through activities to bring cultural, scientific, medical services to the rural areas. General or specialized education concerning disaster reduction will be encouraged, and relevant education bases built. A national network platform spreading disaster reduction knowledge will be launched. Popular science books, wall charts and audio-visual products will be published and produced, local experiences in disaster prevention and reduction be publicized, and public awareness and skills raised.
III. CONSTRUCTION OF A LEGAL FRAMEWORK, INSTITUTIONAL SETUP, AND WORKING MECHANISM RELATED TO DISASTER REDUCTION

China attaches great importance to legislation regarding disaster prevention and reduction and has enacted a number of laws and regulations in this regard, thus gradually institutionalizing disaster reduction efforts. Since the early 1980s, the state has promulgated more than 30 laws and regulations concerning disaster prevention and reduction, including the Emergency Response Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Water and Soil Conservation, Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection Against and Mitigation of Earthquake Disasters, Water Law of the People's Republic of China, Flood Control Law of the People's Re-public of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Desertification Prevention and Transformation, Meteorology Law of the People's Republic of China, Forestry Law of the People's Republic of China, Grassland Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Pollution from Environmental Noise, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution from Solid Waste, Marine Environment Protection Law of the People's Republic of China, Fire Control Law of the People's Re-public of China, Drought Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Hydrology Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Flood Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Forest Fire Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Grassland Fire Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Regulations on Handling Major Animal Epidemic Emergencies, Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Forest Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Geological Disasters, Regulations on the Handling of Destructive Earthquake Emergencies, Regulations on the Administration of Security of Reservoirs and Dams, and Regulations on the Administration of Weather Modification. The state will continue its efforts in the field of legislation as concerns dis-aster prevention and reduction as the need arises.

The Chinese government has for years persisted in incorporating disaster reduction in the sustainable development strategies at the national and local levels. In "China's Agenda 21," issued in March 1994, the central government clearly defined the relations between disaster reduction and environmental protection at the national level, placing as major concerns the construction of a disaster prevention and reduction system and the reduction of personal factors in triggering or worsening natural disasters on its agenda. In April 1998, the state released the Disaster Reduction Plan of the People's Republic of China (1998-2010), which was published, for the first time in China, in the form of specialized plans. It put forward the guidelines, goals, tasks and methods of disaster reduction work. In October 2006, the 11th Five-year Plan for the Development of Science and Technology was released, in which the Chinese government included as major tasks the technological development for a public security emergency response system and the enhancement of the nation's capabilities in handling public security, disasters and unexpected public incidents. In August 2007, the Chinese government issued the 11th Five-year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction, requiring local governments to include disaster reduction in their social and economic development plans.

China has adopted a disaster reduction and relief system featuring central leadership, departmental responsibility and disaster administration at different levels with major responsibility on local authorities. Under the unified leadership of the State Council, the central organs coordinating and organizing disaster reduction and relief work are the National Disaster Reduction Committee, State Flood and Drought Control Headquarters, State Earthquake Control and Rescue Head-quarters, State Forest Fire Control Headquarters and National Disaster Control and Relief Coordination Office. Local governments also have set up corresponding coordination offices to handle disaster reduction and relief work. During disaster reduction and relief work, the People's Liberation Army, the Armed Police, militiamen and reservists, as well as policemen play the major role, and often act as task forces. Social groups, non-governmental organizations and volunteers will also join the effort.

With years of experience in disaster reduction and relief work, the Chinese government has established a disaster reduction and relief mechanism geared to the nation's situation. It has established a series of disaster emergency mechanisms, including a disaster emergency response system, disaster information release mechanism, emergency relief materials reserve system, disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing system, major disaster rescue and relief joint coordination mechanism and emergency social mobilization mechanism. Local governments at various levels also have similar working mechanisms.

— Disaster emergency response system. The emergency response sys-tem of the central government for unexpected natural disasters is formed of three levels: state overall emergency response plan, state specialized emergency response plan, and departmental emergency response plans. Detailed measures and working regulations are worked out by the relevant government departments in line with the specialized plans and their respective responsibilities. In the wake of a major natural disaster, under the unified leadership of the State Council, the relevant departments with different focuses shall act in coordination and launch emergency response plans to guide disaster control and relief work. The governments of the affected areas shall immediately start emergency response measures and set up a local disaster emergency response command with the heads of the local governments serving as the chief commanders, and leaders of relevant departments as members, to jointly draw up emergency plans and measures, organize field emergency response work, and report disaster details and work progress to governments of higher levels and relevant departments.

— Disaster information release system. Following the principle of "being prompt and precise, open and transparent," the central and local governments are expected to work in earnest on the emergency information release work concerning natural disasters and other emergencies, offering through authorized releases, press releases, interviews and press conferences to the public prompt information on the disasters and their developments, progress of emergency response work, disaster prevention, and knowledge on disaster prevention and other information, thus ensuring the public's rights to know and supervise.

— Relief materials reserve system. China has built a relief materials reserve network based on special storehouses, which has seen year-on-year improvements. The country has now ten such storehouses for daily necessities at the central level, and storage centers for relief supply, flood and forest fire control supplies are continuously being built and improved. Coupled with the reserve relief supply centers established in some provinces, cities and counties, a preliminary disaster control and relief materials reserve system has taken shape. To guarantee the timely purchase of relief supplies, a list of commissioned relief supply manufacturers is established, and emergency purchase agreements signed with them for the supply of relief materials in case of emergency.

— Disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing mechanism. A disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing mechanism has been set up, involving such relevant departments as civil affairs, land and resources, water resources, agriculture, forestry, statistics, and seismology, maritime affairs and meteorology. To offer timely and effective support for the decision-making of the central government and local departments in case of emergency, China has initiated the construction of a disaster in-formation database and launched a public platform of national geographical information and a disaster information publishing and sharing system, as well as a platform for national disaster reduction and risk management information.

— Major disaster rescue and relief joint coordination mechanism. In the wake of a major disaster, relevant departments will play their functions and timely dispatch to disaster-hit areas working groups composed of personnel from these departments to gather first-hand in-formation and guide disaster control and relief work on the spot. The groups are also required by the State Council to coordinate with the relevant departments to map out rescue plans, help with disaster relief work and prevent possible secondary disasters.

— Disaster emergency response public mobilization mechanism. A preliminary public mobilization system is now in place, focusing on efforts for rescue, search, first aid, relief, donation and other work. The government also gives full scope to non-government organizations, such as mass organizations, the Red Cross, self-governmental organizations at the grassroots level and individual volunteers in the fields of disaster prevention, emergency rescue, relief and donation work, medical, hygiene and quarantine work, post-disaster reconstruction, psychological support and other aspects.
IV. ENHANCEMENT OF DISASTER-REDUCTION CAPACITY

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the enhancement of disaster-reduction capability. It has made great efforts in undertaking disaster-reduction projects, improving disaster early warning and emergency response, enhancing sci-tech support, strengthening personnel training and disaster reduction work in communities.

1. Carrying out Disaster-reduction Projects and Improving Capability in Comprehensive Prevention of Disasters

In recent years, China has engaged in a series of important disaster-reduction projects, including those concerning flood control, drought combat, earthquake prevention and relief, cyclone control, red tide and other marine disaster prevention, desertification and sand-storm control, and ecological construction.

— Flood control on major rivers. The government has greatly in-creased its input in harnessing major rivers by way of adopting proactive financial policies and issuance of bonds, which has accelerated the progress of the harnessing of major rivers and lakes. To date, the construction and renovation of the dykes on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River have been completed; construction of standardized dykes on the lower reaches of the Yellow River is in full swing; 19 major flood control projects for the Huaihe River have been, by and large, completed; and pivotal water conservancy projects at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, Xiaolangdi on the Yellow River and Linhuaigang on the Huaihe River are playing their full part. China's flood control ability on major rivers has been further improved. Construction work on some major sections of these rivers is now capable of defying the severest flood in 100 years. The flood control capability of small and medium-sized rivers has been continuously improved. The standard for key sea dykes has been raised to withstand the worst flood in 50 years.

— Housing renovation for impoverished rural residents. China attaches great importance to disaster-proof residential construction in rural areas. During the reconstruction of disaster-stricken buildings, technical guidance is given and quality control stressed on site selection, design, construction and acceptance inspection. Housing projects are pushed forward in combination with poverty alleviation efforts. Since 2005, a total of 17.535 billion yuan has been invested nationwide in the renovation and construction of 5.8016 million rural houses for 1.8051 million impoverished households totaling 6.4965 million people.

— Decrepit school building renovation. Since 2001, a school building renovation scheme has been implemented throughout the country. By the end of 2005, a special fund of 9 billion yuan from the state revenues has been allocated for renovating the decrepit buildings of over 40,000 schools. Since 2006, building renovation expenses of all primary and junior high schools in rural areas have been included in the financial support scheme for compulsory education in rural areas.

— Safe school buildings. Starting from 2009, the state will reinforce school buildings nationwide in order to make them meet the earth-quake withstanding standard applied for key projects within three years. They should also meet the requirements in preventing and avoiding disasters caused by mountainside landslide, rock collapse, mud-rock flow, tropical heat wave, fire, etc.

— Seepage prevention and reinforcement for unsafe reservoirs. In March 2008, the state issued the Special National Plan on Seepage Prevention and Reinforcement for Unsafe Reservoirs, requiring the completion of renovation of large and medium reservoirs as well as key small-sized ones threatened by floods within three years. In 2008, 4,035 seepage prevention and reservoir reinforcement projects were undertaken, accounting for 65 percent of the total 6,240 targeted reservoirs.

— Drinking water safety in rural areas. During the Tenth Five-year Plan period (2000-2005), a total of 22.3 billion yuan was spent on solving the problem of drinking water for 67 million people in rural areas, thus basically ending the history of a serious shortage of drinking water in rural areas. Since 2006 priorities have been shifted to guaranteeing that all drinking water is safe. From 2006 to 2008, 23.8 billion yuan were invested by the state revenues and 22.6 billion yuan invested by local revenues for providing safe drinking water to an ac-cumulated rural population of 109 million.

— Water and soil erosion control. In the 1980s, key water and soil erosion control projects were launched in areas suffering from serious water and soil erosion, such as those along the Yellow and the Yangtze rivers. During the later period of the Ninth Five-year Plan (1996-2000), efforts were extended to the upper and middle reaches of the seven major rivers (Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe, Songhua, Liaohe, Pearl) and the Taihu Lake. By 2008, key water and soil erosion control projects had covered a total area of 260,000 sq km, with 70 percent of such areas put under control and a silt reduction rate of 40% or more. Soil erosion in the Jialing River area, on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, has been reduced by one third, while the sediment flow into the Yellow River has been reduced by about 300 million tons per annum.

— Farmland irrigation and drainage. Since the beginning of the Ninth Five-year Plan, China has increased financial input in farmland irrigation and drainage facility construction, focusing on construction of support facilities and water-saving facilities in major irrigation areas. As a result, farmland irrigation and drainage as well as flood and drought resistance abilities have been improved.

— Ecological construction and environmental improvement. Since the beginning of the 21st century, key ecological construction projects have been carried out, including those concerning natural forest resources protection, reverting farmland to forest, shelter forest construction in the northeast, north and northwest of China, key shelter forest construction on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, sand-storm sources control in the Beijing and Tianjin areas, desertification control in karst landform areas, wildlife protection and nature reserve construction, coastal shelter forest construction and the restoration of pasturage to natural grassland. All these projects are aimed at checking the rapid expansion of desertification and reduce the damages caused by extreme climatic conditions. Pilot ecological compensation work has been carried out and experimented with six ecological compensation projects, including rational coal resources development in Shanxi Province. Efforts have also been made in the field of ecological construction at the provincial, municipal and county levels, and in building ecological towns and villages with excellent surroundings, especially pushing ahead the construction of 103 key demonstration counties.

— Construction of earthquake-proof buildings and facilities. China has promulgated the Regulations on the Administration of Disaster Prevention of Urban Public Utilities, the Urban Earthquake and Disaster Prevention Planning Standards and the Design Specifications for Earthquake-proof Buildings in Towns (Townships) and Villages. China has published theZoning Map of China with Seismological Parameters, improved its earthquake-proof evaluation management system for key construction projects, and promoted the implementation of safety guarantees for earthquake-proof houses in rural areas. Construction and reinforcement of 2.45 million such houses have been completed. After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, theEarth-quake-proof Classification Standards for Construction Projectsand theEarthquake-proof Construction Design Specificationshave been revised.

— Highway disaster prevention. Since 2006, in view of highways being destroyed by flood or earthquake, the state has implemented highway disaster prevention projects. By 2008, a total of 1.54 billion yuan had been invested to renovate road embankments, roadbeds, bridge structures and flood-proof and drainage facilities with focus on disaster prevention facilities in mountainous and hilly areas. The dis-aster-prevention capability of China's ordinary highways has also been improved in an all-round way.

2. Building up a Three-dimensional Monitoring System and Enhancing Disaster Monitoring, Early Warning and Forecasting Capability

China is building a three-dimensional natural disaster monitoring sys-tem, including land monitoring, ocean and ocean-bed observation, and space-air-ground observation. A disaster monitoring, early warning and forecasting system has taken initial shape.

— Disaster remote-sensing monitoring system. Small satellites named Constellation A and Constellation B for environmental disaster- reduction monitoring have been launched. A business application sys-tem by using the disaster-reduction satellite has taken shape, providing advanced technological support to remote-sensing monitoring, evaluation of and decision-making for disaster reduction.

— Meteorological early warning and forecasting system. Meteorological satellites FY-1, FY-2 and FY-3 have been put into orbit. A new generation of weather radar installations, totaling 146, has been developed. Ninety-one high-altitude meteorological stations equipped with L-band upper-air meteorological sounding system have been established, and 25,420 regional meteorological observation stations are in operation. Special meteorological observation networks have been preliminarily built for studies of atmospheric elements, acid rain, sandstorms, thunder and lightning and agricultural and transportation meteorology. A comparatively complete data forecasting system has been built for early warning of imminent disastrous weather. A meteorological early warning information release platform covering both urban and rural communities has been established, releasing relevant information through radio, television, newspaper, cell-phone and the Internet.

— Hydrological monitoring and flood early warning and forecasting system. A hydrological monitoring network composed of 3,171 hydrological stations, 1,244 gauging stations, 14,602 precipitation stations, 61 hydrological experiment stations and 12,683 groundwater observation wells has been completed. A flood early warning and forecasting system, ground water monitoring system, water resources management system and hydrological data system have been established.

— Earthquake monitoring and forecasting system. China has built 937 fixed seismic stations and over 1,000 mobile seismic stations, enabling China to be capable of quasi-real-time monitoring of earthquakes above 3 on the Richter scale. In addition, 1,300 earthquake precursor observation stations have been established, as well as a mobile observation network composed of over 4,000 mobile observation stations. Seismological forecasting and monitoring systems at both national and provincial levels have taken initial shape. A high-speed seismic data network composed of 700 information nodes has been built. A cell-phone message service to provide timely earthquake reporting has been launched.

— Geological disaster monitoring system. Since 2003, meteorological early warning of geological disasters has been in place. Over 120,000 places with potential geological hazards are now covered by this sys-tem. Also practiced in those places is that masses are involved in disaster monitoring and prevention. A special landslide monitoring network at the Three Gorges Reservoir area, and land subsidence monitoring networks in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin have been largely completed.

— Environment monitoring and early warning system. Work on environment quality monitoring, pollutant monitoring, environment early warning and forecasting and unexpected environmental accidents monitoring has been carried out for objective observation of the pollution of surface, ground and ocean water, as well as air, noise, solid waste and radiation pollution. The newly launched HJ-1 environmental satellites A and B carry out efficient, macroscopic and real-time ecological monitoring and evaluation. A preliminary air-ground environment monitoring structure has been built. To date, there are altogether 2,399 environment monitoring stations with 49,335 technicians in China.

— Wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring and early warning system. A national wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring network has been established, with 350 observation stations at the national level, 768 at the provincial level and over 1,400 at the county level in major natural habitats of migratory birds and other wildlife. Thus, a wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring and early warning system has been founded, comprising national, provincial and county levels.

— Plant disease and insect pest monitoring and reporting system. A crop pests and disease monitoring and reporting network composed of over 3,000 observation stations and a grassland rodent and insect pest monitoring and reporting network composed of more than 240 observation stations have been established. The categories of crop pests covered by the national monitoring and reporting system have in-creased from 15 in the early 1990s to 26 at present. The interval of reporting on major plant diseases and insect pests has been reduced from ten days to one week. Also established is a forest pest monitoring and reporting network composed of over 2,500 observation stations at the national, county and township (town) levels. It now covers the most dangerous and frequently occurring forest pests in 35 categories.

— Marine disaster forecasting system. Oceanographic observation instruments, equipment and facilities have been renovated. Offshore observation capacity has been enhanced greatly. Buoy observation and cross-sectional survey abilities have been improved as a whole. A batch of marine observation stations has been constructed or renovated. Upgrading of real-time communication system has been completed at some key observation stations. An observation and evaluation system for sea-air interaction and ocean climate changes has been developed for ocean disaster monitoring closely related to climate changes such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion and saline tide.

— Forest and grassland fire early warning and monitoring system. The country's three-dimensional monitoring system for forest and grass-land fires, including monitoring by satellite remote sensing, airplane cruise flight, video monitoring, watching on duty and ground detection, has been improved. A graded forest fire early warning and response system and a fire risk evaluation system have been primarily established.

— Sandstorm monitoring and evaluation system. Efforts have been put into building a satellite remote sensing system for sandstorm monitoring and evaluation, as well as a cell-phone message network. Ground observation points have been set up in major sandstorm-stricken areas of north China at the national, provincial, municipal and county levels so as to form a sandstorm monitoring network covering the whole of north China.

3. Establishing an Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief Response System, and Improving Emergency Handling Capabilities

A disaster relief emergency response system has taken initial shape, with emergency rescue team system, emergency response mechanism and emergency fund appropriation mechanism as its main items. Emergency handling capabilities such as emergency rescue, transportation support, help with daily life, sanitation and epidemic prevention have been greatly enhanced.

— Emergency rescue team system. An emergency rescue team system has taken initial shape, with the public security forces, armed police and armed forces as the main and task force, with special teams such as flood fighting and emergency rescue, earthquake relief, forest fire, maritime search and rescue, mine rescue, and medical care teams as the basic force, with full-time and part-time teams attached to enterprises and public institutions and emergency volunteers as the backup force. The state's land, air search and rescue base construction has been accelerated, and emergency rescue equipment has been further improved.

— Emergency rescue response mechanism. The central government-stipulated responses to unexpected natural disasters are divided into four levels, which are determined by the degree of damage done. The concrete response measures at different levels have been expressly defined, and disaster relief work has been incorporated into a standard management process. The establishment of a disaster rescue emergency response mechanism basically guarantees that people affected by a disaster can receive aid within 24 hours. They are supplied with "food, clothing, clean water, temporary housing, medical treatment and schooling."

— Disaster relief emergency fund appropriation mechanism. A disaster relief fund appropriation mechanism of the central government has been established, including funds for daily life of those affected by natural disasters, funds for severe flood control and drought combat, funds for roads damaged by flood, funds for inland waterway channel rush-repair, funds for medical rescue, funds for culture, education and administration endeavors, and funds for disaster relief in agriculture and forestry. The disaster relief management system characterized by management of disaster relief by levels and funds shared by different levels is being actively promoted. Disaster relief input by local governments must be guaranteed so as to ensure the basic livelihood of people affected by disasters.

4. Establishing a Disaster Reduction Science and Technology Sup-port System, and Enhancing the Scientific and Technological Level of Disaster Reduction

Great importance is attached to the role of science and technology in disaster prevention and reduction and efforts have been made to continuously enhance the scientific and technological level of disaster prevention and reduction by such measures as formulating a special disaster prevention and reduction science and technology development plan, establishing a scientific and technological emergency response mechanism, and undertaking science and technology projects.

— Formulating the National Science and Technology Development Plan for Disaster Prevention and Reduction. In view of the existing problems in natural disaster early warning and forecasting, emergency response, reconstruction, disaster reduction and relief, and information platform, efforts will be made to strengthen top-level design, make overall arrangements, fix weak links, and gradually establish and improve a national science and technology support system for disaster prevention and reduction.

— Strengthening the building of a science and technology emergency response mechanism. The state will set up a national science and technology emergency response mechanism for unexpected public incidents, define the working mechanisms and make arrangements for various links, including the building of a science and technology emergency response system, the enhancement of science and technology support capability, and the application and demonstration of emergency response technology.

— Initiating a batch of disaster prevention and reduction projects. A number of scientific and technological projects, including those concerning meteorology, seismology, geology, oceanography, water conservancy, and agriculture and forestry, has been listed in the National Science and Technology Program, National High-tech R&D Program (863 Program) and key projects supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Financial support will be pro-vided to the basic research programs on disaster prevention and reduction to thoroughly reveal the formation and changing patterns of various types of natural disasters, and the comprehensive risk prevention modes. Research will be carried out in the fields of Asia disastrous calamities overall risk evaluation technology and its applications, disastrous calamity emergency rescue information integration system and demonstrations in China, major natural disaster risk comprehensive rating and evaluation technology in China and the Wenchuan Fault Scientific Drilling Program (WFSD).

— Strengthening the building of scientific and technological research institutes. The National Disaster Reduction Center of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the International Drought Risk Relief Center and the Satellite Disaster Reduction Application Center of the Ministry of Civil Affairs were established in 2003, 2007 and 2009, respectively. In 2006, the Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management was jointly established by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Education.

5. Establishing a Personnel Training System and Improving the Quality of Disaster Relief Personnel

Education of disaster prevention and reduction personnel are incorporated into the national talent development program. A national education system and a training platform for disaster reduction have been gradually established.

— Incorporating disaster reduction into the national education system. Efforts have been made to strengthen personnel training and education, train multi-tiered disaster prevention and reduction personnel by making use of disaster reduction research and the academic advantages of institutions of higher learning; strengthen academic system building for disaster prevention and reduction. Within the framework of the current financial management system, financial support is given to universities and technical colleges that run courses in disaster prevention and reduction, or have established majors in disaster prevention and reduction management and technology, in order to improve the quality of relevant personnel.

— Incorporating disaster prevention and reduction into the training programs for officials. In line of the needs of personnel training, colleges of administration and schools for officials at various levels in China have opened training courses on disaster prevention and reduction, and emergency management. National emergency management personnel training bases are under construction, which will provide disaster prevention and reduction as well as emergency management training to senior civil servants, senior executives of enterprises and public institutions, and senior theoretical workers. A national earthquake emergency rescue training base has been established and put in operation.

— Offering special training courses on disaster emergency management for leading officials. Classes on disaster emergency management for leading officials at the provincial level and classes on unexpected incidents emergency management for officials at the provincial and ministerial level have been held. The participants were leading officials of provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government) and relevant departments of the State Council who were responsible for disaster prevention and reduction, and emergency management work. Since 2005, special training in disaster emergency management for civil servants has been actively carried out, which has effectively helped to improve the overall quality and ability of disaster emergency management personnel at various levels in preventing and dealing with natural disasters and other unexpected incidents. In 2005 and 2006, four special training courses on disaster emergency management for city- and prefecture-level officials were held. Since 2006, four training courses have been held on flood control and drought combat for city- and prefecture-level administrative officials in charge of flood control and drought combat.

— Carrying out emergency rescue training for enterprises and emergency rescue teams. Governments at all levels, in cooperation with related departments, have adopted the method of combining concentrated training with training on their own, to carry out training in disaster prevention and reduction, emergency management for heads of enterprises, management personnel and emergency rescue team members, in order to improve their capability in carrying out rescue efforts, self-protection and coordination in the event of disasters.

6. Carrying out Disaster Reduction Work and Improving Disaster Prevention and Reduction Capability in Communities

Disaster reduction capability building in communities is being carried out in an all-round way. The ability of primary-level communities to fend off disaster risks has been gradually improved.

— Encouraging communities to establish disaster reduction work mechanisms. Promoted by governments at all levels, organizations responsible for disaster reduction work in communities have been gradually established throughout the country, standard disaster reduction rules have been formulated, disaster relief volunteer teams have been organized, and measures for the protection of vulnerable groups including children, senior citizens, the sick and the disabled have been formulated. An effective disaster reduction work mechanism has thereby been established.

— Guiding communities in drawing up plans for emergency response to disasters and carrying out related exercises on a regular basis. According to the General State Emergency Response Plan for Unexpected Public Emergencies, the State Emergency Relief Plan for Natural Disasters and other emergency response plans of local governments, the primary-level governments shall guide communities in formulating communities" emergency relief plans, defining emergency response working procedures, management responsibilities and joint coordination mechanisms in view of the local environment, the pattern of disaster occurrence and characteristics of community residents. With the sup-port and help of related departments of the government, communities frequently organize residents to carry out emergency response exercises in various forms.

— Improving public facilities and equipment for disaster reduction in communities. With government financial support and active public participation, communities may use parks, green land, public squares, sports venues, parking lots, school playgrounds and other open spaces to establish emergency shelters, put up clear emergency safety signs and instruction boards, establish public education places (community disaster reduction classrooms, community libraries, leisure rooms for senior citizens, etc.) and facilities (boards, bulletins, etc.) for disaster reduction, and install necessary fire control and safety facilities for disasters as well as lifesaving appliances, in order to improve public disaster-reduction facilities and equipment.

— Organizing communities to carry out disaster-reduction publicity and education. Proceeding from their respective cultural and regional characteristics, communities may carry out disaster-reduction education in various forms at regular intervals, frequently post disaster-reduction publicity materials in community education venues, and formulate disaster-reduction educational plans based on their specific conditions, so as to enhance the residents" awareness of disaster prevention and reduction and comprehensive disaster-reduction capability.

— Setting up disaster-reduction demonstration communities. In 2007, the state began to establish disaster-reduction demonstration communities. By 2008, 284 communities had been awarded the title of "National Comprehensive Disaster-reduction Demonstration Community" by the state.
V. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN DISASTER REDUCTION

The Chinese government regards it important to give full play to the role of the public in disaster prevention and reduction, and encourages and promotes wide public participation in such work by making people more aware and capable of disaster prevention and reduction. The Chinese government timely releases information on disaster situations and demands from disaster-hit areas. It has strengthened its guidance, standardized management and provided guarantee services. Meanwhile, it is making continuous efforts to improve its social mobilization mechanism, and integrate resources from both government and society to form a disaster relief pattern in which they will complement each other with their respective strengths. People of all walks of life are actively involved in disaster relief efforts whenever there is a big natural disaster. Compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese and foreigners of Chinese origin all provide aid and donations to disaster-hit areas in China. During the devastating Wenchuan earthquake of 2008, China received nearly 76 billion yuan-worth of donations and relief materials from both in and outside China. Personalized services in terms of psychological help from the public have also been effective in building the confidence of people in disaster-stricken areas.

Charities play a key role in disaster relief, and the government has adopted measures to support their development. In terms of the preferential taxation system that encourages public donations, the Enterprise Income Tax Law of the People's Republic of China, which became effective in January 2008, stipulates that the portion of expenses for charitable donations by enterprises is unified to within 12 percent of the total annual profit and it is to be deducted from the tax-able income, instead of the 3 percent as was the practice before. After the Wenchuan earthquake, the government stipulated that donations from enterprises and individuals made through public welfare organizations, people's governments and their departments at or above the county level to disaster-hit areas can be totally deducted from the enterprises" and individuals" taxable income for the year. In December 2008, the government department concerned issued a notice detailing the scope of public welfare undertakings managing public welfare donations, the qualification of tax-free donations from public welfare organizations, and the authorization and procedures for certifying such qualifications. The state encourages the normal development of foundations. By the end of 2008, there were 1,531 foundations of various kinds in China, 162 more than in the previous year. In recent years, the government has been helping charity organizations to enhance their reputation, and promoting annual checkups and evaluations of such foundations.

The Chinese government is very supportive of making public do-nations a part of daily and social life, encouraging and guiding volunteers to take part in disaster prevention and reduction work. In recent years, public donations on a voluntary basis have become more regular and popular among general public across China. By the end of 2008, 34,000 public donation stations and charity venues in supermarkets had been established in China's large and medium-sized cities as well as in small cities with adequate conditions, preliminarily forming a regular national donation service network. The number of disaster reduction volunteers has increased rapidly with the continued progress in China's modernization and the improvement of people's living standard. By the end of last year, there were 430,000 community volunteer organizations, comprising nearly 100 million volunteers, among whom those belonging to the three major organizations — the Communist Youth League, Red Cross and civil administration — registered an increase of 14.72 million over 2007, an increase of 31.8 percent. After the Wenchuan earthquake, Chinese people, enterprises and social organizations were actively involved in related emergency relief work, with over three million volunteers from both in and outside China working in the quake-hit areas and more than 10 million volunteers participating in relief work in the rear across the country.

The Chinese government has made a point of conducting publicity and educational work for disaster prevention and reduction, organizing a rich variety of related activities on International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction each October. Government departments concerned and local governments have set up special bulletin boards focusing on disaster reduction. They also run special programs and columns for this purpose in newspapers and magazines, and on radio and TV, and in portal websites of the Internet, make advertisements to teach people the practical skills to avoid and cope with disasters. Disaster prevention and reduction classes are offered in elementary and secondary schools, and many kinds of emergency response exercises are held. A series of related publicity and educational products have also been developed, including popular science readings, wall posters, audio-visual publications and case-study teaching materials. The Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations are playing a key role in raising the public's awareness and capability for disaster prevention and reduction by taking vigorous measures to conduct emergency aid training and to popularize related knowledge and skills.

The state pays special attention to policy studies and pilot work concerning the insurance industry's role in disaster prevention and reduction. Efforts are made continuously to sum up the experience of and improve the risk prevention and relief mechanism for agriculture and forestry, which combine natural-disaster insurance and state financial subsidies. Efforts are also being made to set up an overall mechanism to disperse the risks of disasters in the areas of agriculture and forestry, and to gradually enhance the ability of the insurance industry to effectively cover the economic loss and damage inflicted by natural disasters.
VI. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN DISASTER PREVENTION AND REDUCTION

Adopting an open and cooperative attitude, China takes an active part in international efforts in the area of disaster reduction, in the construction and improvement of an international cooperative disaster-reduction mechanism, in building up a worldwide capacity in this regard, and in providing mutual aid with other countries in major natural disasters.

China has actively taken part in disaster-reduction cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, and has built up close partnership relations with many UN organizations, including the UN Development Program, UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, UN World Food Program, UN Food and Agricultural Organization and the UN Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space. In March 2006, China donated US$1 million to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. In November of the same year, the Chinese government and UN organization in China jointly held a symposium on emergency aid in retrospective of the Indian Ocean tsunami, reviewing the use of China's multilateral emergency aid. China has worked with the Inter-national Strategy Committee for Disaster Reduction in establishing the International Centre for Drought Risk Reduction, and has involved in the work of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) and has been proactive in setting up its Beijing Office. Experts sent from China have joined the UN disaster evaluation team, repeatedly undertaking UN tasks. Actively involved with the advisory country connected with UN international search and rescue activities, China has been vigorously promoting global cooperation in the aspect of disaster emergency relief, and hosted the UN's Asian-Pacific area earthquake emergency response practice in 2006.

China has played an active role in building up a dialogue and exchange platform for disaster reduction between Asian countries. In September 2005, the Chinese government hosted the first Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Beijing, which adopted the Beijing Action Plan for Reducing Disaster Risks in Asia and laid the basis for further cooperation between Asian countries in this regard. An active participant in the second and third Asian ministerial conferences, China, together with its Asian neighbors, was constructive in formulating the Delhi Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia 2007, and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction 2008. In December 2008, China held a symposium on strengthening Asian countries" capability for coping with calamitous disasters.

China sets great store by discussing the signing of bilateral and multi-lateral agreements on disaster prevention and reduction, and by human resources development and cooperation in this regard. In May 2005, China held a human resources training class on disaster prevention and reduction for countries suffering from the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In May 2006, China hosted a China-ASEAN seminar on disaster prevention and reduction in Beijing. In 2007, China hosted a symposium on emergency response and disaster relief of ASEAN and Asian countries, a seminar on disaster risk management and a seminar on post-disaster reconstruction. China is actively involved in ASEAN's activities for disaster management, attending various kinds of symposiums sponsored by ASEAN, observing emergency response exercises, and discussing proactively the formation of a China-ASEAN cooperative agreement and action plan.

China has promoted inter-governmental cooperation in disaster relief among the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states. In April 2002, leaders of emergency relief departments of the SCO member states held their first meeting in Russia's St. Petersburg. In April 2003, an expert conference was held in Beijing to discuss the Inter-Governmental Mutual Aid Agreement among SCO Member States. In October 2005, this Agreement was signed in Moscow. In November 2006, the second such meeting was held in Beijing, and adopted the 2007-2008 Action Plan for Mutual Aid in Disaster Relief among SCO Member States, which laid the framework for carrying out activities in disaster relief communications, information exchange, disaster relief in border areas, personnel training and technological exchanges. In September 2007, leaders of emergency relief departments of SCO member states held their third meeting in Bishkek, discussing the implementation of the agreement on disaster relief co-operation and furthering such cooperation. The SCO member states also decided to set up the SCO Natural and Man-made Disaster Relief Center. In late September 2008, China hosted the first meeting of the heads of border areas among SCO member states in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The meeting reached a consensus on issues concerning disaster relief cooperation in the border areas of SCO member states, expediting the establishment of a joint disaster-relief action mechanism in border areas, and information ex-changes and personnel training.

In coping with major natural disasters, China has engaged in mutual support and aid with the international community. After the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, China provided the largest emergency aid in its history, totaling 687.63 million yuan, to the affected countries and related UN agencies. It also promptly dispatched an international rescue team and a medical team to Indonesia. On August 29, 2005, hurricane "Katrina" hit the southern part of the United States. The Chinese government provided a relief fund of US$5 million to the United States, together with a batch of emergency aid materials. After an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale rocked Pakistan on October 8, 2005, the Chinese government sent emergency humanitarian aid worth US$26.73 million to that country. From October 9 to November 29, Chinese airplanes carried disaster relief materials on 26 flights to Pakistan, and Chinese international emergency rescue teams and medical teams were dispatched to the quake-hit areas. In 2008, after the strong tropical storm "Nargis" hit Myanmar, the Chinese government sent emergency aid materials worth US$1 million to Myanmar, which was followed by relief funds of 30 million yuan and US$10 million, as well as a medical team.

After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, China received much support from the international community. Over 170 countries and regions, as well as more than 20 international organizations, provided funds totaling over 4.4 billion yuan and large batches of relief materials to China. Professional rescue and medical teams came from Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore to help with the emergency relief ef-forts in the affected areas. Nine medical teams with a total of 223 medical and technical workers were sent by the governments of the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, Italy, France, Cuba, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Red Cross of Germany to participate in medical aid in the disaster-stricken areas of Sichuan and Gansu provinces. In Beichuan County, Sichuan Province, one of the worst-hit areas, 16 volunteers from countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico started their rescue work immediately after their arrival. A UK rescue group of ten volunteers also came to search for victims and the missing in the same areas. Many satellites, such as ALOS of Japan, COSMO-SkyMed of Italy and LandSat of the United States, offered remote-sensing images of the quake-hit areas. The Chinese government and people are deeply grateful for all this help.
CONCLUDING REMARKS

China is at an important stage of building an overall moderately prosperous society, and has a heavy and arduous task in its socio-economic development. Confronted with the increasingly serious threats of natural disasters, China has a long way to go in disaster prevention and reduction.

Although the Chinese government has made great efforts to reduce the risks and consequences of natural disasters, it is clearly aware that there exist inadequacies in the related work that need to be addressed immediately: The mechanism for coordinating and integrating relief efforts is not yet sufficient; the laws and regulations concerning disaster reduction as well as related policies need to be improved; a sound disaster monitoring system is yet to be set up; basic construction for disaster prevention and reduction cries out for greater support; and the public awareness in this regard needs to be enhanced. With the aim of raising China's overall capacity for and level of natural disaster prevention and reduction, the Chinese government will continue to put people first and make it a core task to raise the comprehensive disaster reduction capacity of the whole of society, that of the grassroots communities in urban and rural areas in particular, on the basis of improving public awareness of disaster prevention and reduction as well as disaster relief and self-rescue skills.

As natural disasters pose a common challenge to mankind, disaster reduction is a global effort. China will continue to work unremittingly to reduce the risks and damage posed by natural disasters together with the rest of the world for the development and progress of human society.
Original source: www.china.org.cn/government/whitepaper/node_7066921.htm

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Events

October 15, 2020 - 4:00pm

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a book talk with author David Lampton. His new book examines China’s effort to create an intercountry railway system connecting China and its seven Southeast Asian neighbors.