|UPDATED: May 23, 2008 |
| Wen, in Quake Visits, Highlights Chinese Style of Premiership |
| Ten days after the devastating earthquake in southwest China, six days after he returned to Beijing, Premier Wen Jiabao was back on the front lines of quake relief |
Ten days after the devastating earthquake in southwest China, six days after he returned to Beijing, Premier Wen Jiabao was back on the front lines of quake relief.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) talks to local officials in Beichuan, southwest China's Sichuan Province, on May 22, 2008. Wen Jiabao made his second trip to the quake-battered zone on Thursday afternoon to oversee disaster relief work. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
He flew to Mianyang in Sichuan Province, one of the worst hit cities, on Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival, he conducted a fly-over inspection by helicopter of a "quake lake," which is formed by landslides that block rivers.
People would have found him on the same tight schedule early this year as Wen visited the regions hit by the worst winter weather in 50 years four times in nine days.
The Hong Kong-based daily Ta Kung Pao said in a commentary: "Chinese premiers have developed an image of being caring and conscientious since late Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People's Republic of China."
When a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Xingtai, in the northern Hebei Province in 1966, Zhou rushed to the region and oversaw relief work, risking aftershocks, Du Xiuxian, a photographer of Zhou's era, recalled in his published photographic memoir "The Last Legends."
Wen has inherited that tradition of Chinese premiership.
Two hours after the quake rocked Wenchuan County in the northwestern mountainous region of Sichuan Province, he was in theair.
As a large part of the country felt the tremors and experienced great shock, Wen promised the country in front of China Central Television (CCTV) camera that the government would lead the people to win the battle against the earthquake.
"Confronted with the disaster, we need composure, confidence, courage and an effective command," he said with a sober and steadfast attitude.
During the next four days, Wen set foot in almost all of the worst-hit counties, walking over rocks and tiles, comforting weeping children and encouraging rescuers.
He made it very clear that the top task at the initial stage was to save lives, and he pressed officials and troops very hard to implement rescue work.
Back in Beijing on May 16, Wen did not relax but hosted several key meetings on rescue and relief work.
Observers found that he has presided over at least 13 high-level meetings since the quake.
At these meetings, the topics under discussion ranged from big issues such as the top priorities of the relief task force to tiny details like milk powder for infants.
He stressed prevention of epidemics and handling of victims' corpses, told an expert team to give scientific and technical support to rescue and relief work, and worked out solutions to homeless survivors' problems.
While guidelines were set for relief work, detailed orders were made as well, such as to send 6,000 temporary houses within two days and order rescue teams to reach all remote quake-hit villages within 24 hours.
Rehabilitation was also discussed and a directive was issued to fully consider the geological conditions and bearing capability of the local environment so as to balance cities and rural areas, industry and agriculture.
The focus has shifted from rescue to rehabilitation of quake survivors and their communities, he said Thursday while en route to Sichuan. The latter "will be a harder and long-term task," he said.
Chinese are captivated by what the premier has done.
Chen Hui, a middle-aged mother in Chongqing Municipality near Sichuan that was also affected by the quake, participated in a text message prayer campaign for Wen.
She sent a text message to her son in Beijing, saying: "The 66-year-old Premier Wen has worked really hard for quake relief. He has comforted and moved us. Pass this on your friends, pray for him."
Chen received the message from a friend. The campaign, whose organizer is unknown, aims to collect 1 million prayer text messages.
A compilation of scenes of Wen's visit to Sichuan is popular on-line and Netizens have created a forum called "Premier Wen, we love you."
"As one of China's senior leaders, the premier not only manages the government's daily work but also displays the ruling party's ideals and principles personally," Ta Kung Pao said. "A premier of China can not be copied elsewhere."