U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, June 29, 2008, to extend condolences for the victims in the quake-hit region.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday arrived in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province, and extended condolences to those affected by the May 12 earthquake.
Rice first visited the debris of the Tengda sports club in downtown Dujiangyan. The three-story building, built in 1980s, collapsed during the earthquake.
Stepping on the debris, Rice kept shaking her head. Communist Party chief of Dujiangyan Liu Junlin told her more than 3,000 people in the city lost their lives during the devastating earthquake, and 90 percent of local houses collapsed.
Rice then went to Qinjianrenjia that houses 8,000 people, and asked about the condition of temporary houses. Mayor of Dujiangyan Xu Xingguo told her the city has built more than 3,500 prefab houses, settling more than 8,000 people now and planning to add 4,000 people in the future.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L, Front) visits the debris of a sports club in Dujiangyan City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, June 29, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
Rice commended the efforts of medical staff. "You have done a good job. You saved a lot of people," she told Doctor Jin Weitie.
Later on she visited a culture center in the settlement where she watched the Beijing opera and a show performed by the children.
"It is good to see people are recovering and going on with their lives, and children are studying and performing", she said.
She presented a book on U.S. national parks to 14-year-old boy, Zhou Yifan, after they chatted together in English. She inscribed the book with a message of good wishes.
"I am tremendously impressed with the spirits of the people we met in the relocation area," Rice told reporters before her departure from Chengdu.
She said that it was not the U.S. government, but the U.S people that responded with sympathy and kindness.
"We talk about U.S.-China relations, we talk at the government level, but it is really the relations between the American people and the Chinese people that really make the difference," she said.
"With a disaster of this magnitude, no one can do it alone and we are glad that the Chinese government and the Chinese people reached out to the international community and allowed the international community to help," Rice added.
Rice was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the area ravaged by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that killed almost 70,000 people.
During her four-hour stay in the province, Rice also toured temporary homes for survivors and saw a water purifier donated by Samaritan's Purse, a U.S. non-governmental organization committed to international relief.
One water purifier was installed in Yonggu Village in Yutang town. It has a daily capacity of 40,000 liters of water, enough for 15,000 people to drink, wash and bath.
The U.S. government has offered cash and materials worth 2.6 million U.S. dollars for quake relief, according to China's Foreign Ministry.
Her Sichuan visit is part of her two-day China tour, which will bring her to Beijing. She is scheduled to discuss with Chinese leaders a wide range of issues, including the Korean nuclear issue.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2008)