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Asian Disaster Relief Conference Opens

A total of 42 countries from Asia and Pacific Ocean gathered in Beijing Tuesday to exchange views on disaster control and to enhance regional cooperation in this field.

"Since natural disasters are the common threat to people's lives and development, it is imperative to conduct international and regional cooperation," said Hua Jianmin, Chinese State Councilor and secretary general of the State Council, when addressing the opening ceremony of Tuesday's Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction.

Hua said that China will adopt a series measures to conduct disasters relief works with other countries, including building up an "International Drought Prevention Center" in collaboration with the Secretariat of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction of the United Nations.

"China is now negotiating with some Asian countries and regional organizations on bilateral or multilateral agreements on disaster relief," Hua said.

"We are ready to share with other Asian countries and related international organizations our data from satellite 'Fengyun II' and the small satellite constellation on environment and disaster monitoring and forecast, and parameters measured by China's seismic stations network," he said.

Besides, China will hold the "China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Seminar on Disaster Prevention and reduction" in 2006, to enabling the exchanges in disaster reduction among Asian countries.

The country also vowed to sponsor the "International Workshop on Disaster Prevention and Relief," for the 26 members of the International Civil Defense Organization next year.

"Though China is a developing country with limited economic and technological power, we would offer a helping hand to other developing countries in building their disaster reduction capability," Hua said.

Tuesday's meeting is considered as an important follow up action of the World's Conference on Disaster Reduction held last January in Kobe of Japan, on which the "Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015" was adopted to provide a comprehensive disaster-relief roadmap for building resilient nations and communities.

"Representatives of 42 Asian countries will go on discussing on how the political and financial commitments made in Kobe can be translated into concrete action at the regional, national and local levels," said Salvano Briceno, Director of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction on behalf of the United Nation's Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Asia, as the world's largest continent in terms of size and coastal line, has complicated climate types and the gravest meteorological and hydrological disasters in the world. It also has the world's largest number of volcanoes and holds the most frequent occurrence of earthquakes.

The number of natural disasters that happened in the last decade of the 20th century in Asia accounted for 43 percent of that of the world's total.

Calamities, such as the rainstorms and floods in Bangladesh in 1970, the terrific earthquake in north China's Tangshan, in 1976, and the tsunami and earthquakes in the Indian Ocean in 2004, had incurred great losses of life and property in the disaster-stricken countries.

(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2005)

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