Feel­ing the pain to­gether

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Af­ter the bad news that Tues­day night’s 7.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake had killed at least 19 peo­ple and in­jured nearly 250 near Sichuan’s pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion Ji­uzhaigou Na­tional Park, there was some good news. It was con­firmed that the five Hong Kong tourists, who were ear­lier re­ported miss­ing fol­low­ing the earth­quake, had been ac­counted for as of Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. It is com­fort­ing to know that all Hong Kong tourists stranded in the quake-struck re­gion are safe and un­harmed.

But that doesn’t stop Hong Kong peo­ple — known for their long tra­di­tion of com­pas­sion and sup­port — feel­ing sad about those who died or suf­fered dur­ing this lat­est nat­u­ral catas­tro­phe. This is es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it struck Sichuan. This is an area with which Hong Kong peo­ple have a spe­cial bond af­ter Wenchuan suf­fered an 8.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake in May 2008.

In the wake of the Wenchuan earth­quake, Hong Kong com­mit­ted HK$10 bil­lion to sup­port re­con­struc­tion in that re­gion — HK$9 bil­lion from the gov­ern­ment and HK$1 bil­lion from the Jockey Club and pub­lic do­na­tions. More than 2,000 Hong Kong peo­ple went to the stricken area to help with dis­as­ter relief and re­con­struc­tion work. And more than 150 re­con­struc­tion projects spon­sored by Hong Kong do­na­tions have been launched and suc­cess­fully com­pleted over the past sev­eral years, with the last batch of projects be­ing com­pleted only in May last year when then chief sec­re­tary for ad­min­is­tra­tion Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in­spected the projects with a Hong Kong del­e­ga­tion.

There is not much peo­ple can do to pre­vent nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, par­tic­u­larly se­vere ones such as strong earth­quakes and dev­as­tat­ing floods. But swift and co­or­di­nated res­cue ef­forts do make a dif­fer­ence in cop­ing with the af­ter­math by sav­ing more lives and min­i­miz­ing prop­erty losses. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has called for quick ac­tion from the rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment departments in re­sponse to the dis­as­ter.

There is no doubt that the main­land has more than enough ca­pa­bil­ity to han­dle the relief and re­con­struc­tion op­er­a­tions alone. But Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Carrie Lam al­ready told the me­dia in Bei­jing that Hong Kong would def­i­nitely par­tic­i­pate in the re­con­struc­tion work again if given the chance — be­cause “blood is thicker than water”. In­deed, Hong Kong peo­ple have al­ways been ready to help their main­land com­pa­tri­ots when­ever a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter has struck. This is be­cause they feel their pain. This has been true with the cat­a­strophic East­ern China flood of 1991, the Wenchuan earth­quake of 2008 and many other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters over the years.

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