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Proactive Disaster Relief Services Needed
China should be more proactive in exporting its services to areas decimated by disaster, a senior trade official has suggested.

But the country should continue to offer its rescue teams and other general assistance on a humanitarian basis.

Chen Jian, the assistant minister of commerce, said he had spoken with representatives from the State Seismological Bureau (SSB) about forming a contact resource of up to 40,000 local experts and professionals in the sectors of building design, construction, medical services and the exporting of special services to disaster-hit countries.

"The potential market of post-disaster construction is huge because many quakes and other disasters happen frequently in the world," Chen said, adding a further feasibility study is needed before his suggestion can become reality.

Li Qianghua, the SSB's information official, said the recommendation was constructive, but stressed that the immediate disaster-relief services offered by international search and rescue teams were free of charge.

Chen's suggestion was submitted at a conference held yesterday to welcome home China's 30-member rescue team, which was involved in sifting through the debris from the recent Algeria quake which hit on May 21.

The team, which found a 12-year-old boy alive and four deceased, also offered medical treatment and check-ups to more than 170 people.

In his letter of congratulations to the team, Premier Wen Jiabao said it had done an excellent job in its first mission overseas, helping further promote China-Algeria relations.

The director of the SSB, Song Ruixiang, said China and its eastern neighbouring countries have experienced numerous quakes recently and counter-measures should be strengthened to keep future losses at a minimum.

The director said China will expand it into a regular disaster rescue force.

Li Yu, the assistant general commander at the Headquarters of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), said two rescue teams will soon be set up in Yunnan Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where earthquakes frequently strike.

China now has special teams, consisting of PLA members, to conduct rescue activities in earthquake and flood-hit zones.

(China Daily June 6, 2003)

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