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Political advisor proposes national emergency response organ against natural disasters
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13:33, May 08, 2009

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· 8.0 Richter scale earthquake hits SW China
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China should set up a national-level emergency response commission, in addition to a catastrophe insurance system and a contingency fund, to better prepare itself for major natural disasters, said a political advisor Monday.

The commission can involve Party and government leaders as well as military authorities, who can exercise unified management in case of emergencies, said Sun Yongfu, deputy head of the Committee for Economic Affairs of the country's top political advisory body.

A state-backed catastrophe insurance system should be gradually formed, said Sun, who is also the country's former vice railway minister, in a speech to the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

He also suggested budgeting enough money every year as a special contingency fund to increase the government's financial strength in disaster relief.

"There are a lot of difficulties and problems in our current emergency response mechanism, such as poor monitoring and warning systems, unprofessional rescue staff and inadequate material support," said Sun, who joined an inspection tour to the quake-stricken Sichuan Province and other regions last September.

In areas prone to natural disasters, there should be more contingency reserve bases of disaster relief materials, said Sun.

Sun Yongfu, member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), speaks at the fourth plenary meeting of the Second Session of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 9, 2009. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

He also advised turning local fire brigades into professional emergency rescue teams.

Alerted by the massive quake striking southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12 last year, China has urged local governments to place greater priority on disaster emergency response and relief.

The government said last Monday it will set a national disaster relief day on May 12 every year, starting from 2009, to keep the country on guard against natural disasters.

The magnitude-8.0 earthquake that hit Wenchuan County in Sichuan left more than 87,000 people dead or missing, millions homeless, and a huge loss of more than 845 billion yuan (about 124billion U.S. dollars).

Source: Xinhua

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