|Speech in Memory of the Victims of the Sichuan Earthquake|
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, thank you very much for joining us today.
It is now the 10th day since the earthquake in Sichuan.
We have been watching with tears and sorrow as the tragedy unfolded.
We felt nothing but admiration for our national leaders, who responded so quickly to the needs of the people.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 140,000 soldiers and armed police, doctors, nurses, and volunteers, who brought 6,453 people out of the rubble. Every day I am hoping that this figure will rise further.
Just now I heard that the latest miracle is the rescue of a 38 year old woman after 216 hours. She survived on rainwater and insects. The whole country is holding its breath for her recovery.
All these days, I cannot but marvel at the strength and dignity of human life in the face of such an overwhelming disaster.
A 3 month old baby was found under his mother's body. Also found in his blanket was a mobile with the mother's last message: "My baby, if you survive, always remember I love you."
80 hours after the quake, a 17 year old boy was rescued from the wreckage and the first thing he asked, in front of the camera, was "Can I have a coke?" and he added, "With ice, please."
His good-humored confidence has brought smiles to a country in grief. His confidence in life is immensely encouraging.
Indeed, the earthquake has neither robbed the people of Sichuan of their spirit nor their dignity. Instead, it has brought the whole country together.
This same courage in the face of adversity, the respect for life, and the resilience that have sustained the Chinese nation through the ages continues to define who we are as a people.
During all this time, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support from Great Britain.
Her Majesty the Queen sent a letter of sympathy.
The Prime Minister came yesterday to sign the book of condolence.
On behalf of Britain, he generously pledged tents to shelter 30,000 people, which is really a timely help.
The Foreign Secretary, the Secretary for International Development, Leader of the Opposition and other political leaders all conveyed their condolences.
The business community offered generous donations.
We were flooded with more than 2,000 emails and letters and many calls.
The British public has made the grief of strangers its very own.
On behalf of the Chinese people and government, I hereby extend our sincere thanks and deep appreciation.
In Sichuan now, more than 5 million people have lost homes. We expect more rain and aftershocks.
We need more tents. Out of the 1.1 million tents required, only 200,000 are available.
The Embassy plans to spend all the 350,000 pounds we have received in donations on additional tents.
Healing the trauma and putting lives back together will be a long-term endeavor. We look forward to closer cooperation with Britain and the international community.
I want to mention that, the whole crisis has come under enormous media attention.
Hundreds of Chinese journalists reported from the ground around the clock.
The international media filed back live images that showed a real China open for the world to see.
China is a country half way through its reforms.
The government enacted the regulations on information transparency on May 1st this year to further ensure people's right to information.
And we have seen this regulation in action through the open, continuous and candid coverage of the disaster by the Chinese media.
The Olympics is fast approaching.
If anything, the earthquake has made the Chinese people more resolute about putting on a successful Olympic games.
Even a little girl in Sichuan, who just moved to a tent, told a journalist that she wants to watch the Olympics Games.
Just as the people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sichuan in their time of grief,
the Olympics will be an occasion for China and the world to celebrate life.
I once again thank all of you here for coming.