The strong earthquake on April 25th caused huge casualties and property losses to Nepal. The Chinese government and people felt deeply about the losses and conducted swift rescue operation. We have offered three rounds of emergency material assistance worth RMB 140 million, including more than 22,000 tents, more than 18,000 blankets and more than 300 power generators.
Chinese enterprises in Nepal have mobilized human and material resources in assisting earthquake relief and sent more than 30 sets of machinery to clear roads and search and rescue the wounded. The medical rescue team sent by the Red Cross Society of China does not shrink from dangers and difficulties and sets their medical posts in the Dhading region which is about 30 kilometers away from the epicenter, making them the foreign medical and rescue team nearest to the epicenter. Experts from the Chinese medical team applied their superb medical skills in saving the leg of a young Nepalese man named Raju Bhattarai from amputation. The earthquake does not show any mercy, but people do. There are countless such stories.
Now Nepal has begun the post-disaster reconstruction. At the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction dated June 25th, China announced a package of assistance arrangements and will pool the grant to Nepal in the next three years for its post-disaster reconstruction. In early June, the Ministry of Commerce of China sent three expert teams to Nepal and evaluated the disaster conditions in the river valley regions of Kathmandu, the mountainous areas in North Nepal and the projects built with Chinese assistance.
On this basis, considering China’s assistance capacity and advantages, China has compiled a plan of aid projects for post-disaster reconstruction, arranging priority projects for the next three to five years. These projects cover areas such as infrastructure development, improvement of people’s livelihood after the earthquake in North Nepal, restoration of cultural relics, capacity building for disaster prevention and mitigation, medical and health cooperation and repair and reinforcement of the projects built with Chinese assistance, etc.
The key task of this visit of the Chinese government delegation is to discuss with the Nepal side the plan of projects for post-disaster reconstruction. This afternoon, Prime Minister Koirala met with the delegation. After consultations, Secretary Sharma of the Ministry of Finance of Nepal and I signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Post-Disaster Reconstruction Aid Project Plan and the Agreement on Targeted Cash Assistance. Tomorrow I will lead the delegation to visit the Araniko Highway to inspect road damage and the disaster-stricken towns along the route. Now I would like to brief you on the contents of the reconstruction plan.
–For infrastructure, priority projects are the restoration and re-opening of the Araniko and Syabrubensi-Rasuwagadi Highways to traffic and urban transportation and public buildings in the river valley regions of Kathmandu. The aim is to enhance China-Nepal connectivity and help large cities such as Kathmandu in post-disaster reconstruction.
–For improving people’s livelihood after the earthquake in North Nepal, priority projects are schools, hospitals and resettlement buildings for earthquake victims in Sindhupalchok and Rasuwa. The aim is to help post-disaster reconstruction of the severely-affected areas in North Nepal.
–For the restoration of cultural relics, priority is on the overall restoration of Durbar Square and Swayambhunath in Kathmandu to help Nepal revitalize its tourism industry.
–For capacity building for disaster prevention and mitigation, priority is on devising disaster prevention and mitigation plans, earthquake monitoring network and urban seismic zoning research to help Nepal improve its disaster prevention and control capabilities.
–For medical and health cooperation, priority is to upgrade the civil servant hospital and offer medical equipment and personnel training to improve Nepal’s medical infrastructure and service capacity.
In order to give full play to the projects with Chinese assistance and promote Nepal’s social and economic recovery and development, China plans to restore the ongoing projects of Phase I of Kathmandu inner ring road and the Tatopani Checkpoint, and to repair and reinforce the projects built in Nepal with Chinese assistance.
Also, to help Nepal relocate earthquake victims, China will offer USD 10 million of special assistance in cash for the relocation of earthquake victims under the package of grant for Nepal’s post-disaster reconstruction.
China and Nepal are linked by mountains and rivers and a shared destiny. Nepal is China’s good neighbor, friend, partner and brother. Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pandey once said that the friendship between China and Nepal is as pure as the Himalaya Mountains. Now the Nepalese people are confronted with difficulties and we stand ready to help them unhesitatingly. This is how the Chinese government practices the correct viewpoint of righteousness and benefit advocated by President Xi Jinping and this translates into real actions China’s neighborhood diplomatic concepts of affinity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.
The reconstruction is a long-term and massive project and there is still a long way to go. In this process, China will strengthen coordination with the international community and relevant donor countries and remain open towards appropriate forms of international cooperation. On the basis of fully respecting the will of Nepal and observing the principle of “proposed, agreed and guided by Nepal”, China stands ready to discuss the contents and forms of cooperation with Nepal, other donors and international organizations and to press ahead with these measures with a view to leverage the advantages of all parties, pooling resources and forging synergy for the assistance work.
(Full text of the speech of Chinese Assistant Minister for Commerce, Zhang Xiangchen, during the press conference organised at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on July 23, 2015)