Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has called on people from four provinces along China's biggest river the Yangtze to be alert to the possibility of severe floods in the river valley.
The premier made his call during a June 4 to 13 inspection tour of the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui to check on their preparedness and on the construction projects to reinforce the river's embankment.
Zhu alerted leading officials in the four provinces to the danger of possible severe flooding in the region, and called on them to make all-out efforts to prepare for this by stepping up reinforcement projects and storing sufficient flood-control materials.
Efforts must be made to ensure the embankments of the Yangtze, major cities and main transport arteries in the region come safely through the coming flood season, said the premier.
The severe floods in 1998, the worst in a century, threatened major cities like Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, and millions of residents along the Yangtze.
On June 4 the premier arrived at the reinforced embankment of the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze, which he had visited in the middle of the devastating floods that hit the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze in 1998.
The 360 km Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River is a zigzag part most vulnerable along the 6,300 km Yangtze since the river bed of that section is higher than the plains on both sides of the section.
On June 7 and 8, the premier visited the embankment of Yangtze river in Yueyang city in Hunan province and flood control facilities in Changde city.
He also inspected the projects launched after the 1998 flooding to retire most vulnerable farmland from production and shift it to flood storage, and towns built for thousands of farmers relocated from the affected area.
In the past local farmers have farmed areas reserved for the passage of flood water around major lakes along the Yangtze.
During June 9 to 13, Zhu also inspected the reinforced embankment in Jiangxi and Anhui provinces, including the Jiujiang embankment in Jiangxi, which burst in 1998.
China has invested billions of yuan in reinforcing the embankment along the Yangtze since 1998.
During his 10-day inspection tour, the premier also urged local government leaders to create jobs for workers laid off by State-owned enterprises in the on-going industrial restructuring.
The premier stressed the need to improve the social security system for urban residents, including a system providing an unemployment allowance.
Among those who accompanied the premier were the Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng, Construction Minister Wang Guangtao and Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng.
(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2002)