Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged governments at all levels to include the monitoring, forecast and prevention of natural disasters as a critical part of their social and economic development plans.
Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the science and knowledge on disaster prevention should be included in the country's educational programs, so as to increase the awareness, knowledge and capabilities about disaster prevention among all Chinese people.
Hu made the proposals Monday, while addressing the joint inaugural ceremony of both of the 14th Congress of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Science.
In his speech, he showed special concerns over disaster prevention and reduction and called for giving priority to the study and forecasting of natural disasters of various kinds.
China was among countries that were mostly plagued by various natural disasters, with 70 percent of its cities and 50 percent of its 1.3 billion population located in areas that are vulnerable to one or more kinds of natural disasters, he said.
Hu listed a number of major natural calamities over the past decade, including the torrential floods in the Yangtze River valley in 1998, the severe droughts in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in 2006, the large floods in the Huaihe River valley last year, the winter storms in the country's south early this year, and the massive Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12.
Highlighting the enormous losses these catastrophes had brought to the country, Hu said disaster prevention and reduction must be treated as an important job that could have a major impact on the country's economic and social development.
He urged scientists to work on theoretical studies of natural disasters; strengthen the capabilities of monitoring and alarming; establish a network of monitoring, research and forecasting in the country; and further study the relations between different disasters, between disasters and the environment, and between disasters and economic and social development.
He also pledged to accelerate the use of advanced technologies in disaster prevention and reduction, and set up a national platform to share the information on disaster prevention and risk management, and improve disaster monitoring, alarming, assessment and emergency rescue system at both national and local levels.
Natural disasters are a common challenge for human beings, Hu said. He urged the country's scientists to carry out international exchanges and cooperation, and learn from useful experience and advanced technologies from foreign nations to contribute to the joint efforts of human beings in disaster prevention and reduction.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)