The Chinese government's swift, decisive and organized response in mobilizing large numbers of civil and military assets have helped to mitigate the effects of the earthquake, which rocked China's Sichuan province on May 12 this year, said a Singapore government minister on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, which held a reception to thank the 55-member Singapore rescue team to Sichuan on Tuesday night, K. Shanmugam, Singapore's minister for law and second minister for home affairs, said that it was heartening and encouraging to see how this earthquake has brought the people together, working under very difficult conditions, to save lives.
"It was also evident to all of us that the Chinese government's top priority and concern was on taking care of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the earthquake," he said.
He also spoke highly of the promptness by the Chinese government in providing information and timely updates of the situation, saying that it was not only well received by the international community, but also helped facilitate donor countries in preparing the kind of humanitarian assistance required in the research, rescue and recovery efforts.
Singapore and China enjoy a close relationship, which is fostered by bilateral cooperation in many areas, he said, adding that with the scale of destruction caused by the Sichuan earthquake, the city state would do all it could to help China in need.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xiaokang thanked the Singapore rescuers for what they have done in the quake-hit area.
"Braving through tough conditions and constant threat of aftershocks and landslides, you all worked hard with professional skills and tenacity to search for survivors and help the affected, bringing comfort, care and hope to the victims there. Your humanitarian spirit not only touched the local people but also people all over China," Zhang said.
The ambassador said that the five-day operation of the 55 Lion Heart Contingent members in China, and their great courage and solidarity displayed in the operation, will be inscribed in the annals of the Chinese nation's disaster relief efforts in the Wenchuan earthquake.
The Singapore rescue team, which arrived in Sichuan on May 16 and backed to Singapore on May 21, was deployed to the Shifang area, and they found five bodies in their five-day operation.
(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2008)