Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hailed the progress of post-quake reconstruction efforts in southwest China's Sichuan Province and expressed his belief that the people there have a "strong will" and a "bright future."
"The enormous changes over the past three years have proved that people in this disaster-hit area will never back down, and that they will stand firmly on this land and build up their towns with their own hands," Wen said.
Wen made the remarks during an inspection of the area's reconstructed facilities. The May 7-9 inspection tour marked Wen's 10th visit to the region since the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake occurred in May 2008, leaving 80,000 people dead or missing.
The Chinese Government had made a goal of rebuilding the region within three years following the quake.
New tour, new miracles
On May 7, Wen traveled in a car along a newly-built mountain road to Qingchuan, one of Sichuan's worst-hit counties. Wen had to take a boat to get to the county when he visited in 2008, as the original road was destroyed in the quake.
Most of the county's original residents have now moved into new houses, which were built on top of the ruins of the county's original buildings.
"The changes are so enormous that I can barely recognize this place!" Wen said as he toured the town of Yingxiu in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake. The new Yingxiu Elementary School now stands in the same area where Wen's helicopter landed during one of his previous inspections.
Official figures show that a total of 37 major cities and towns, 2,915 schools, 4,543 km of highways and 26,000 km of countryside roads have been rebuilt so far.
Wen also visited Beichuan Township during his tour. The township was completely destroyed and about 10,000 of its residents were killed in the quake.
The new Beichuan Township was built next to the original township.
"Your new school is very beautiful. It was built with the hearts and strength of people across the country. We should never forget that," Wen told more than 2,000 students at the new Beichuan Middle School, which held its first classes on September 1 last year.
Many of the original middle school's teachers and students were killed during the quake.
"Every school has soul and character. For Beichuan, that soul and character is a strong backbone that will never bend over. Every student here should know that love has no boundaries. Students should keep a hardworking spirit and carry on in the face of obstacles," Wen told the students.
Wen also visited vegetable greenhouses, ethnic tourist attractions and plantations during his tour.
The premier urged local officials and citizens to develop and expand local industries in order to boost the region's economy.
At a Monday meeting held during the inspection, Wen said that post-quake reconstruction efforts in Sichuan had achieved their goals and registered a "decisive victory," as seen in improved housing conditions, quake-proof public infrastructure and progress in the revitalization of the area's industries.
Social-economic development and living conditions in the region have already surpassed pre-earthquake levels, Wen said.
In the past three years, China has poured in more than one trillion yuan and issued a series of policies to assist the reconstruction efforts. Nineteen provincial regions have jointly supported the rebuilding efforts.
However, Wen said more efforts still need to be made in order to consolidate the progress that has been achieved. Rebuilding quake-hit areas to ensure that they can continue to develop in a self-reliant way is one of the things that must be done, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2011)