Secretary-General's press encounter in China [unofficial transcript]
Chengdu, China, 24 May 2008Q: Mr. Secretary-General how do you talk about your China trip, after you come back, to the international community?
SG: First of all, my heart is filled with great sadness by what has happened to the Chinese people. It is a great natural tragedy. At the same time I'm moved by such strong leadership [as] demonstrated by the Chinese Government leaders, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, and all the people who have shown such a great spirit of self-help and cooperation and resilience to overcome this natural disaster.
Natural disasters can come to any people, any country. What is important is your determined will to overcome. The United Nations has taken initial measures to donate the necessary funds; we have sent rescue experts and officers.
When I return, on the basis of what I have seen today, I will discuss with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and with Member States what more the United Nations can do. At this time, as you are going through a rescue effort, in parallel with this rescue effort, you need to look at the longer term, the rehabilitation and reconstruction. This is what I am going to discuss with the Member States.
At the same time, as I have seen the natural disaster in Myanmar and also in China, I am committed to discussing within the UN system and the broader international community how the international community can have a more systematic framework to prevent natural disasters and how we can reduce natural disasters. We have the Hyogo Framework, but we need to build upon this matter.
Q: What role is the UN going to play during the reconstruction process in China?
SG: I'm very much convinced of the Chinese Government's capacity to mobilize resources, but it may be beyond the Chinese capacity, and that needs the international communities' efforts. There has been an outpouring of assistance and cooperation from the broader international community. I will try to mobilize this.
Q: To what extent, in what forms will UN organs take part in this reconstruction process? Is there any specific plan underway?
SG: That, as I have said, I have to discuss with the Member States. I have taken initially some urgent, even modest, amounts of financial assistance from the Central Emergency Response Fund. But this may have to be replenished because we have spent much of this Fund. The international community must replenish this Fund. At the same time, we need to work out a better-organized, systematic framework.
Q: To show your condolences and mourn for the victims, what is the message that you want to convey the most to the Chinese people?
SG: I have expressed my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Chinese people, to the victims and the families of the victims and also wounded people. I hope they will be able to overcome their personal plight and sacrifice. Please remember that the whole international community is standing behind those people.
Off-the-Cuff on 24 May 2008