The following is the transcript of the press interview of Zheng Yuandong, deputy director-general of the First Department of Regional Affairs of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), on China's assistance to Pakistan in fighting floods.
1.Recently, Pakistan is suffering from severe floods. What measures has the Chinese government taken to help Pakistan fight the floods?
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and "iron-clad brothers". President Xi Jinping has sent messages of condolences to Pakistani President Arif Alvi and Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, expressing deep condolences to the victims and sincere solicitude to the families of the victims, the injured and the people in the disaster area. Chinese netizens also expressed their willingness to help Pakistan, which fully demonstrated the profound political and public friendship between the two countries.
China and Pakistan always have a good tradition of helping and supporting each other. During the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the Pakistani brothers extended a helping hand immediately, took out the last tent in stock and sent it to the disaster area in China, and said that no matter how difficult it is, a disaster relief medical team must be sent to China. This kind of camaraderie that provides the most needed help in a crisis has always been kept in Chinese people's mind, and China will surely reciprocate this kindness.
China is highly concerned about the flood disaster in Pakistan. According to the urgent needs of Pakistan, CIDCA developed an assistance plan as soon as possible, and strengthened the coordination among all related departments. It took the lead in establishing a 24-hour internal information platform, reported the situation in a timely manner, and efficiently promoted the implementation.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform that China has decided to provide 100 million yuan worth of emergency humanitarian assistance, including 25,000 tents and other disaster relief materials urgently needed by Pakistan.
2.The first batch of flood relief materials aided by the Chinese government to Pakistan will be delivered today. Could you please introduce some details?
To ensure that the relief materials arrive in time, CIDCA has cooperated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Emergency Management and other departments, and has received strong support from the Chinese Air Force.
The Chinese Air Force will dispatch two Y-20 planes today and tomorrow, flying a total of four times to deliver the most urgently needed first batch of 3,000 tents to the disaster-stricken areas for resettlement. Two planes have departed from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 7:50 am this morning and are expected to arrive at Karachi Airport around 4 pm Beijing time.
It should be mentioned particularly that the tents are dispatched from Sichuan Province where the Wenchuan earthquake happened, and one of the Chinese Air Force captains comes from Sichuan who suffered from the quake. It is the best interpretation of the concept of the community with a shared future for mankind.
It took less than a week from the receipt of Pakistan's request for assistance to the delivery of the first batch of aids, which fully reflects China's vision and implementation of the Global Development Initiative, demonstrates China's institutional advantages of concentrating all efforts on major tasks, and marks a new chapter in the "friendship of tent assistance" between China and Pakistan. China will transport the remaining 22,000 tents and other supplies to the disaster area as soon as possible according to the disaster situation and Pakistan's needs.
3. As the person in charge of assistance to Pakistan, could you please introduce China's plan for follow-up assistance to Pakistan?
China has a traditional virtue of mobilizing the whole effort to resolve the crisis. In addition to the above-mentioned government assistance, the Red Cross Society of China provided emergency cash assistance of US$300,000 to the Pakistani Red Crescent; the Chinese embassy in Pakistan organized Chinese enterprises in Pakistan to donate 15 million rupees to Pakistan; the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is actively studying the provision of 1 million yuan in material support to its bordering northern region of Pakistan. CIDCA will step up coordination and strive for more resources to support Pakistan.
It is currently the harvest season of crops in Pakistan. The flood damages the crops, washes out the roads and bridges, and there is often a major epidemic after the disaster. CIDCA and the Pakistani embassy in China have set up a joint working panel to be responsible for implementing follow-up cooperation in emergency disaster relief, and China will provide support to Pakistan in post-disaster reconstruction, epidemic prevention, and food shortages according to the needs of Pakistan. China will also help Pakistan to carry out capacity building for disaster prevention and relief, including technical support in meteorology and hydrology. CIDCA is also considering the use of the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund to mobilize more international agencies to participate in disaster relief and reconstruction in Pakistan. It is believed that Pakistan will be able to overcome the flood disaster, and the friendship between China and Pakistan will surely become deeper.
The following is the transcript of the press interview of Naeem Iqbal Cheema, counsellor of the Embassy of Pakistan in China, on China's assistance to Pakistan in fighting floods.
I take this opportunity to thank the government and people of China for supporting Pakistan in the flood relief efforts. China has always been at the forefront of helping their Pakistani brethren in the hour of need.
The humanitarian situation in Pakistan has deteriorated over the past two weeks as heavy rains continue to cause flooding and landslides resulting in displacement and damage across the country. Over 33 million people have been affected so far.
These monsoon-induced floods have badly affected 116 districts in Pakistan and 66 out of them have been declared calamity hit. Over 1,000 people have died and more have been injured. Over 218,000 houses have been completely destroyed while 452,000 houses have been damaged. 2 million acres of crops have been impacted and close to 800,000 livestock have been lost as a result of the unprecedented floods. The economic loss is also colossal.
The government of Pakistan has launched emergency relief and rescue operations. However, keeping in view the large scale of devastation caused by the floods, we need the international community to come forward in support of our relief efforts. The people in the affected areas are in urgent need of shelter, food and medicines.
We are grateful to the Chinese government for the announcement to donate 25,000 tents to provide shelter to the displaced people and US$300,000 assistance through Red Cross Society. While we have just launched our appeal for donations on the Embassy's website and social media accounts, the response is overwhelming. We are receiving calls and messages from all over China from organization and individuals who want to donate shelter and food. The gesture of our Chinese brothers and sisters is very touching.
Pakistan and China are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. We are iron-clad brothers and have stood by each other in good and bad times. We deeply appreciate the gesture of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi who expressed sympathy to Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari upon learning of the news of the floods, and announced the decision to donate relief goods to Pakistan. Chinese enterprises in Pakistan have also contributed to the Prime Minister's flood relief fund.
President Xi Jinping yesterday sent a message of condolence to President Dr. Arif Alvi and Premier Li Keqiang wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. We are deeply grateful to the Chinese leadership for sharing our sorrow and lending a helping hand at this difficult time.
I would especially like to thank CIDCA, which, under the leadership and guidance of Chairman H.E. Luo Zhaohui, is coordinating the supply of relief goods to Pakistan.
We hope to receive strong support of the Chinese government in the post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation phase as well. In future, we should also strengthen cooperation in fighting climate change, disaster prevention and mitigation to lessen the effects of natural disasters.