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Top-down mobilizing system helps win battle against earthquake
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As the coordinated national battle against the Sichuan earthquake wins praise, observers say China's top-down mobilizing system will lead to more astonishing efficiency in reconstruction and the humanitarian task lying ahead.

Statistics on Friday showed that nearly 90,000 people had been killed or were missing in the May 12 earthquake. It had affected more than 45 million people, a figure several times larger than that of all countries affected by the Asian tsunami in December 2004.

While calling for the self-help of the quake-zone, the central government has launched a nationwide campaign to facilitate quake-relief rescue and reconstruction.

In total, 21 provinces and municipalities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu and Tianjin, were asked to provide relief materials such as housing, tents, medicine and food to heavily hit counties, including Dujiangyan, Shifang, Wenchuan, Mianzhu and Maoxian.

The order was supported by local authorities.

Jiang Yikang, party chief of the eastern Shandong Province that was assigned to assist Beichuan, said the provincial government would help reconstruct the county as if it was a county in Shandong.

"We would treat people in Beichuan as our own family members," he said.

The People's Daily, the voice of the Communist Party of China (CPC), published a commentary on Wednesday, hailing the program as "an effective move to help the people in the area to weather the difficulties and a scientific arrangement of quake-relief work."

"The move reflects the warmth of a socialist family," it said.

The assistance means more than donations of capital and goods to help survivors maintain basic living activities. It means revitalizing the quake-devastated places with the support of investment, human resources, technology and equipment, the commentary said.

Zhuang Jian, a senior economist at the Beijing-based Asian Development Bank, said the assistance program under the order and coordination of the central government was rare in Western countries. "The strong mobilizing power has guaranteed the immediate and efficient relief work."

As the scale of the disaster becomes clearer, the government has announced a 70 billion yuan fund (10 billion U.S. dollars) to pay for reconstruction this year. Further funding is promised.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has ordered central government departments to cut budgets by 5 percent this year to help the disaster relief work.

The government also called the public to live more frugally and would freeze the approval of any new office buildings for government bodies.

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