III. Construction of a Legal Framework, Institutional Setup and Working Mechanism Related to Disaster Reduction
China attaches great importance to legislation regarding disaster prevention and reduction and has enacted a number of laws and regulations in this regard, thus gradually institutionalizing disaster reduction efforts. Since the early 1980s, the state has promulgated more than 30 laws and regulations concerning disaster prevention and reduction, including the Emergency Response Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Water and Soil Conservation, Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection Against and Mitigation of Earthquake Disasters, Water Law of the People's Republic of China, Flood Control Law of the People's Re-public of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Desertification Prevention and Transformation, Meteorology Law of the People's Republic of China, Forestry Law of the People's Republic of China, Grassland Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Pollution from Environmental Noise, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution from Solid Waste, Marine Environment Protection Law of the People's Republic of China, Fire Control Law of the People's Re-public of China, Drought Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Hydrology Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Flood Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Forest Fire Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Grassland Fire Control Regulations of the People's Republic of China, Regulations on Handling Major Animal Epidemic Emergencies, Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Forest Plant Diseases and Insect Pests, Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Geological Disasters, Regulations on the Handling of Destructive Earthquake Emergencies, Regulations on the Administration of Security of Reservoirs and Dams, and Regulations on the Administration of Weather Modification. The state will continue its efforts in the field of legislation as concerns dis-aster prevention and reduction as the need arises.
The Chinese government has for years persisted in incorporating disaster reduction in the sustainable development strategies at the national and local levels. In "China's Agenda 21," issued in March 1994, the central government clearly defined the relations between disaster reduction and environmental protection at the national level, placing as major concerns the construction of a disaster prevention and reduction system and the reduction of personal factors in triggering or worsening natural disasters on its agenda. In April 1998, the state released the Disaster Reduction Plan of the People's Republic of China (1998-2010), which was published, for the first time in China, in the form of specialized plans. It put forward the guidelines, goals, tasks and methods of disaster reduction work. In October 2006, the 11th Five-year Plan for the Development of Science and Technology was released, in which the Chinese government included as major tasks the technological development for a public security emergency response system and the enhancement of the nation's capabilities in handling public security, disasters and unexpected public incidents. In August 2007, the Chinese government issued the 11th Five-year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction, requiring local governments to include disaster reduction in their social and economic development plans.
China has adopted a disaster reduction and relief system featuring central leadership, departmental responsibility and disaster administration at different levels with major responsibility on local authorities. Under the unified leadership of the State Council, the central organs coordinating and organizing disaster reduction and relief work are the National Disaster Reduction Committee, State Flood and Drought Control Headquarters, State Earthquake Control and Rescue Head-quarters, State Forest Fire Control Headquarters and National Disaster Control and Relief Coordination Office. Local governments also have set up corresponding coordination offices to handle disaster reduction and relief work. During disaster reduction and relief work, the People's Liberation Army, the Armed Police, militiamen and reservists, as well as policemen play the major role, and often act as task forces. Social groups, non-governmental organizations and volunteers will also join the effort.
With years of experience in disaster reduction and relief work, the Chinese government has established a disaster reduction and relief mechanism geared to the nation's situation. It has established a series of disaster emergency mechanisms, including a disaster emergency response system, disaster information release mechanism, emergency relief materials reserve system, disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing system, major disaster rescue and relief joint coordination mechanism and emergency social mobilization mechanism. Local governments at various levels also have similar working mechanisms.
— Disaster emergency response system. The emergency response sys-tem of the central government for unexpected natural disasters is formed of three levels: state overall emergency response plan, state specialized emergency response plan, and departmental emergency response plans. Detailed measures and working regulations are worked out by the relevant government departments in line with the specialized plans and their respective responsibilities. In the wake of a major natural disaster, under the unified leadership of the State Council, the relevant departments with different focuses shall act in coordination and launch emergency response plans to guide disaster control and relief work. The governments of the affected areas shall immediately start emergency response measures and set up a local disaster emergency response command with the heads of the local governments serving as the chief commanders, and leaders of relevant departments as members, to jointly draw up emergency plans and measures, organize field emergency response work, and report disaster details and work progress to governments of higher levels and relevant departments.
— Disaster information release system. Following the principle of "being prompt and precise, open and transparent," the central and local governments are expected to work in earnest on the emergency information release work concerning natural disasters and other emergencies, offering through authorized releases, press releases, interviews and press conferences to the public prompt information on the disasters and their developments, progress of emergency response work, disaster prevention, and knowledge on disaster prevention and other information, thus ensuring the public's rights to know and supervise.
— Relief materials reserve system. China has built a relief materials reserve network based on special storehouses, which has seen year-on-year improvements. The country has now ten such storehouses for daily necessities at the central level, and storage centers for relief supply, flood and forest fire control supplies are continuously being built and improved. Coupled with the reserve relief supply centers established in some provinces, cities and counties, a preliminary disaster control and relief materials reserve system has taken shape. To guarantee the timely purchase of relief supplies, a list of commissioned relief supply manufacturers is established, and emergency purchase agreements signed with them for the supply of relief materials in case of emergency.
— Disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing mechanism. A disaster early warning, consultation and information sharing mechanism has been set up, involving such relevant departments as civil affairs, land and resources, water resources, agriculture, forestry, statistics, and seismology, maritime affairs and meteorology. To offer timely and effective support for the decision-making of the central government and local departments in case of emergency, China has initiated the construction of a disaster in-formation database and launched a public platform of national geographical information and a disaster information publishing and sharing system, as well as a platform for national disaster reduction and risk management information.
— Major disaster rescue and relief joint coordination mechanism. In the wake of a major disaster, relevant departments will play their functions and timely dispatch to disaster-hit areas working groups composed of personnel from these departments to gather first-hand in-formation and guide disaster control and relief work on the spot. The groups are also required by the State Council to coordinate with the relevant departments to map out rescue plans, help with disaster relief work and prevent possible secondary disasters.
— Disaster emergency response public mobilization mechanism. A preliminary public mobilization system is now in place, focusing on efforts for rescue, search, first aid, relief, donation and other work. The government also gives full scope to non-government organizations, such as mass organizations, the Red Cross, self-governmental organizations at the grassroots level and individual volunteers in the fields of disaster prevention, emergency rescue, relief and donation work, medical, hygiene and quarantine work, post-disaster reconstruction, psychological support and other aspects.