July 6, 2023
BEIJING – President Xi Jinping has directed authorities at all levels to prioritize the safety of people and property and make concerted efforts to step up emergency response to floods, mudslides and other natural disasters triggered by torrential rainfall in the country.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks in an important instruction published on Wednesday after incessant rainfall hit many parts of the country including Southwest China’s Chongqing, causing heavy casualties and property losses.
Between Monday and 10 am on Wednesday, 15 people died in rain-related incidents in Chongqing and four others are missing, local authorities said. Heavy rains have disrupted the lives of more than 130,000 people in 19 districts and counties, and damaged over 7,500 hectares of crops.
In his instruction, Xi said the country is about to enter its main flood season, which starts in late July and continues till early August, and it is important to prevent possible flood disasters in the Yangtze, Huaihe, Songhua and Liaohe river basins.
He required the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and the ministries of emergency management and water resources to enhance coordination, strengthen consultation and research, and improve early warnings and forecasts.
The president underscored that key officials at all levels must take the lead in fighting the floods, put the safety of people and property first, and strive to minimize all kinds of losses.
Early on Wednesday, Wang Daoxi, vice-minister of water resources, led a working team to Wanzhou, the hardest-hit district in Chongqing, for flood control and rescue work.
More than 37,000 people in Wanzhou have been affected by the floods and over 12,000 of them have been relocated or evacuated, local authorities said. The district has also suffered 227 million yuan ($31.34 million) of direct economic losses after more than 160 houses either collapsed or were damaged due to heavy rains.
Following Xi’s instruction, the finance and emergency management ministries announced 320 million yuan in emergency funds to aid disaster relief in 16 provincial-level regions including Chongqing and its neighboring Sichuan province.
The funds will be used by local authorities for search and rescue operations, relocation and resettlement of affected people, identification and mitigation of secondary disaster risks and repairs of damaged houses.
The National Meteorological Center has forecast rainstorms in parts of Chongqing, Heilongjiang and Zhejiang provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Thursday.