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Remarks on Visit to Samaritan's Purse NGO, Water Purification Project

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Dujiangyan, China
June 29, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's been quite a visit here, to come through and to visit with the residents who are relocating after the terrible earthquake that took place.

I wanted to come because the American people care very deeply for what has happened here. The American government has responded. As a matter of fact, the director of the United States Agency for International Development will be here tomorrow, bringing some American CEOs to talk about how we can help in the reconstruction of this area.

But it is really not the American government, but the American people that have responded with generosity and an outpouring of kindness, because we talk a lot about U.S./China relations, and we talk about it at the government level. But it is really the relationship between the American people and the Chinese people that will make the difference.

I have been tremendously impressed with the recovery, with the resiliency, and the spirit of the people: the people that we met in the relocation area, the children who are still studying and performing. I am really delighted and just moved to be here with Samaritan's Purse and Dr. Gettle, providing clean water for the residents here. It is really a sign of how the human spirit can overcome great devastation.

Even as we are here among people who are rebuilding their lives, we remember, of course, the many people who lost their lives, including the children who lost their lives. And they will always be remembered. But it is good to see that people are recovering, and that they are going on with their lives. And I even had a chance to feed fish for one of the couples who had managed to save their tropical fish at the time of the earthquake.

And so, to the people of China, on behalf of the American people, we stand with you, and we wish you the very best for a full recovery. Thank you very much.

MR. MCCORMACK: We have time for a couple of questions? 

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, sure.

MR. MCCORMACK: Let's start with Jasmine from Sichuan TV Station.

JASMINE: Okay. Thank you, Secretary. My name is Jasmine, from Sichuan TV station. My first question is how significant do you think this trip is, and how do you evaluate the Chinese government's efforts on dealing with disaster after visiting this disaster-hit area here in Sichuan? And would you like to say anything to those people who have been suffering from this terrible disaster?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, again, to the people who suffered through the terrible disaster, both people who lost family members and friends, and also the people who are now recovering their lives and building new lives, the people of the United States want to be of help. And it's why we are mobilizing a public and private effort to try and help.

I can see that the Chinese government, the officials, have been attentive. I see how much effort has gone into the recovery. But with a disaster of this magnitude, no one can do it alone. And we are very glad that the Chinese government, the Chinese people, have reached out to the international community, allowed the international community to help. In times of need, it's important that we draw together as a community.

And so, the governments are doing good work. I think it will ultimately be individuals and the people themselves, and great non-profit organizations like the Samaritan's Purse that are here, providing the clean water.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, I wonder if you -- you seem to be favorably impressed by the Chinese government's response to this, and I am wondering if you can contrast that, perhaps, with the government of Burma's response to its international disaster, and whether you would like to see China, which has some influence with the Burmese, do anything to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it is a contrast. And the Chinese government and the Chinese people have reached out for help, and they have been -- they have seen a tremendous response from the international community. That is what people around the world want to do when there is a great natural disaster of this kind.

I remember very well during Katrina in the United States. People think of the United States as a developed, wealthy country with its own resources. But we so much appreciated the outreach from countries around the world to help the people in need. And that is really what the international community wants to do.

And so, it has been sad that the Burmese authorities have, instead of making possible the international community's response to their people, that they have put up barriers to that response. And we are all trying to encourage the Burmese to allow us to help the people there. Many lives could have been saved. Perhaps still many more could still be saved, if we can get that response.

And we will continue to talk to China and others who have influence. But the main thing is to say to the Burmese authorities, "This is not a matter of politics, this is a matter of human beings wanting to respond to other human beings in need." And that is what I have seen here, is human beings being helped by people from around the world. Thank you very much.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, thanks, guys.

2008/T19-12



Released on June 29, 2008

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