Chinese president pays silent tribute to quake victims
2010/04/21

Chinese top leaders Hu Jintao (C), Wu Bangguo (4th R), Wen Jiabao (4th L), Jia Qinglin (3rd R), Li Changchun (3rd L), Xi Jinping (2nd R), Li Keqiang (2nd L), He Guoqiang (1st R) and Zhou Yongkang (1st L), mourn for the victims of Yushu earthquake, during the start of the meeting of the Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, in Beijing, capital of China, April 21, 2010. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday paid a silent tribute in Beijing to the victims of the earthquake in northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Former President Jiang Zemin also expressed his condolences.

The nine members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, all in dark suits, stood solemnly and bowed their heads to show respect for the dead at the beginning of a meeting in the central leadership compound of Zhongnanhai in Beijing.

National flags flew at half-mast at government agencies in the Chinese capital Wednesday and all public entertainment was suspended.

At Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing, thousands of people watched the national flag being hoisted to full height and then lowered to half-mast at about 5:33 a.m.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Central Military Commission, Chinese embassies around the world and other authorities all flew the national flag at half-mast.

Wednesday's issues of People's Daily, China Youth Daily, 21st Century Business Herald and other major nationwide newspapers were printed in black and white to mark the day of mourning.

Internet portals like Sina and Baidu displayed gray home pages Wednesday.

Chinese Internet users posted tens of thousands of tributes for victims and survivors of the quake. Some wrote poems and some lit candles and delivered flowers in online mourning halls.

"Go Yushu! Disasters will invigorate our nation. Chinese people are united in the face of difficulties," said a post from "Xingwen" on fetion.com.cn.

The Taiwan-based Alliance for the Reunification of China held a candle-light ceremony with a three-minute silence Wednesday evening.

Hsing Chi, head of the group, said, "Our members were all in shock and pain on hearing about the Yushu earthquake."

The alliance sent letters to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the mainland's State Council and other mainland departments to express condolences, she said.

The Strait Peaceful Reunification Association planned to hold prayer rituals for victims at 10 temples in the island from Wednesday to Friday.

"People from the mainland and Taiwan are all one family... Both sides have been frequently hit by natural disasters and every time we reach out to each other," association president Kuo June-tzi said.

Other organizations, including the Unified China Party of Taiwan and the Commerce Industry and Culture Interchange Association, posted notices on the black and white front pages of local papers, expressing their condolences.

Ye Duchu, a professor with Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the country's central leadership showed sincere and careful concern for the quake-affected people.

Wednesday marks the seventh day after the quake, a time for religious ritual according to Buddhist tradition. The 7.1-magnitude quake struck Yushu in Qinghai a week ago and left at least 2,064 dead, 175 missing and 12,135 injured.

President Hu visited the quake zone Sunday and vowed to help survivors, living in tents with only the most basic of facilities, to rebuild their homes.

Hu cut short his trip to South America and postponed visits to Venezuela and Chile after the quake in Yushu, while Premier Wen delayed visits to Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar scheduled for April 22 to 25.

Premier Wen arrived in Qinghai on the second day of the quake and visited schools, orphanages, monasteries and temporary shelters, consoling and sympathizing with the victims on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

"The major task in the quake zone now is to make sure the lives of all survivors return to normal," said Li Junpeng, public administration professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance.

More than 12,700 military rescuers, firefighters and thousands of medical personnel poured into the quake zone with food, water and other emergency supplies after the quake, with most arriving in Yushu within 30 hours of the quake.

At a gathering Tuesday, Chinese state-run and private companies, joint ventures and celebrities raised 2.17 billion yuan (320 million dollars) in donations for relief and reconstruction work.

Chinese people from different circles, including government departments, non-governmental organizations and Taiwan, are all donating to help the survivors.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs, which is responsible for receiving donations from provincial-level Party committees and governments, has received more than 169.5 million yuan from Party committees and governments in 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

Government officials from the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administration Regions also dressed in black suits to show respect for the quake victims. The Hong Kong SAR government has approved a fund of 4.5million HK dollars for non-governmental organizations' relief work in Qinghai.

 

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