TANGSHAN, Hebei, July 28 (Xinhua) -- On the 40th anniversary of the Tangshan earthquake, President Xi Jinping said the country's disaster prevention, reduction and relief capabilities should be improved.
Xi made the remarks on Thursday during an inspection tour of Tangshan in north China, where he visited a memorial, leaving flowers and paying his respects to all who died in the devastating earthquake.
The 7.8-magnitude quake struck the city of Tangshan in Hebei Province on July 28, 1976, killing more than 240,000 people and destroying virtually all buildings.
China has suffered some of the world's worst natural disasters, which are diverse, frequent, hit many parts of the country and cause severe damage, Xi said during a meeting with provincial and city officials.
Despite notable improvements to China's disaster relief system, there is still room for improvement, Xi said.
The government is shifting priority from relief to prevention, from divided efforts to comprehensive preparation, and from reducing damages to addressing risks, he said.
Legislation and leadership will be improved, and attention will be given to streamlining mechanisms, improving monitoring and prevention of natural disasters, enhancement of disaster resistant urban and rural infrastructure, and better training and organization of the public.
Warning that the country is entering a critical stage in flood control and relief, Xi underscored that the lives and safety of the public were the government's top priorities.
The military and civilian sectors will work closely to respond to emergencies, try their best to ensure the safety of people and reinforce large reservoirs, he said.
Xi promised that the government will spare no effort in searching for the missing, treating the injured and taking care of the deceased.
Residents in flood-hit regions will be relocated to safe and sanitized locations with the supplies they will need, he added.
LEGACY OF TANGSHAN
"An earthquake destroyed this city 40 years ago, but it didn't destroy the will of the people of Tangshan or the soldiers and civilians across the country," Xi said in the Tangshan Earthquake Memorial Park.
Xi hailed the people of Tangshan for their selflessness, unity, resilience and hard work following the earthquake, stressing that these qualities are exactly what the country needs to build a "moderately prosperous society in all respects and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation".
While visiting the city's paraplegic rehabilitation center, Xi voiced his admiration for a couple who were both patients and now actively participate in community work and write poems and novels.
Xi encouraged patients at the center to value life and health and strive to make their lives splendid, while lauding the medical workers' thorough and meticulous services.
The city has recovered and prospered after the devastating earthquake because of the unity of its people under the leadership of the Party, he said.
Tangshan is an example of the excellence of the Party leadership and socialist system, Xi said.
Xi urged the city to carry on upholding the spirit and to take the lead in the ongoing economic restructuring and reform drive.
At an exhibition on the city's recovery and development over the past four decades, he noted that Tangshan had a lot to gain from the Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development.
The president also instructed Hebei Province to take the full advantage of its proximity to the two municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and advance its environmental protection and poverty alleviation work.
He also visited a local community and toured the World Horticultural Exposition in Tangshan.