Rice visits quake-hit China region (Lead)

June 29th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Chengdu (China), June 29 (Xinhua) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Sunday arrived here, the capital of China’s south-western Sichuan province, and extended condolences to those affected by the devastating May 12 earthquake. The quake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, jolted the Sichuan province, killing and wounding thousands in the aftermath.

Rice visited the Qinjianrenjia area and commended the relief work conducted by the medical staff. Some 8,000 people lived in the area before the quake.

“You have done a good job. You saved a lot of people,” she told the staff, who gathered there to receive her.

Rice also visited a culture centre in Qinjianrenjia, where she watched the Beijing opera and a show performed by children which were organised on the occasion of her visit.

“It is good to see people are recovering and moving on with their lives,” she said.

She also presented a book on US national parks with her autograph to a 14-year-old boy at the event.

Rice was the first high-ranking US official to visit the area after the devastating quake that killed at least 70,000 people.

She said it was not the US government, but the people of America, who responded with sympathy and kindness to the disaster.

“We talk about US-China relations, we talk at the government level, but it is really the relations between the American and Chinese people that made the difference,” Rice told reporters before her departure from Chengdu.

“With a disaster of this magnitude, no one can do it alone and we are glad that the Chinese government and the Chinese people reached out to the international community for help,” Rice said.

During her four-hour stay in the province, Rice also visited the temporary homes for the survivors. A US non-governmental organisation donated a water purifier for the residents to mark her visit.

The water purifier was installed in the Yonggu village in Yutang town which has a daily capacity of 40,000 litres, enough for 15,000 people to drink, wash and bath.

The US government has offered cash and materials worth $2.6 million for the quake relief, according to China’s foreign ministry.

Her Sichuan visit is part of her two-day China tour that will also bring her to Beijing. She is scheduled to discuss with Chinese leaders a wide range of issues, including the Korean nuclear issue.

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