Chinese Defense Ministry held its first press conference Sunday afternoon on armed forces' rescue efforts in the earthquake.
National Defense Ministry spokesman Hu Changming, with officers from departments involving in the earthquake relief, briefed the reporters of the relief efforts of the armed forces and armed police in the massive earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Li Xiguang, deputy director of the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, said the press conference, introducing the armed forces' efforts while the whole country are fighting against the disaster, is timely and important.
It shows a more confident image of the Chinese armed forces, and its whole-hearted dedication to the people, he said.
Yao Yunzhu, researcher of the Academy of Military Sciences, said it is a common practice in developed countries to have defense ministry spokesman. This will help build a confident and responsible image of the military.
Since the armed forces are the major relief forces in the earthquake, its information publicity is also part of the government's emergency reaction. Therefore, it is a right time to hold the first press conference, Yao said.
According to the spokesman, the first Chinese military rescue team headed for the disaster area within 14 minutes after the strong earthquake hit Sichuan Province. China's armed forces had dispatched 113,080 soldiers and armed police to help with rescue operations in earthquake-hit areas as of 8 a.m. on Sunday.
The armed forces had pulled 21,566 people both dead and alive from the debris, treated 34,051 injured people, transferred 205,370 people to safety, airdropped 307 tons of relief supplies and repaired 557 kilometers of damaged roads.
Armed forces personnel had also donated about 160 million yuan (22.9 million U.S. dollars) to relief work, and the sum was still rising.
"The earthquake rescue is a test to the armed forces' comprehensive ability, such as the dispatch and logistic guarantee. Their reaction is very prompt and good," Yao said.
The behaviors of Chinese armed forces also won highly appraisal from the international community.
Ma Jian, deputy director of the Combat Department of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), told the press conference that the PLA was prepared for various natural disasters in peace time.
(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2008)