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The Chinese Embassy holds special Mourning Ceremony for Earthquake Victims
2008/05/21

On 21 May the Chinese Embassy held a special mourning ceremony for earthquake victims attended by the people in Britain. Over 200 people from all walks of life in Britain and representatives from the diplomatic corps in London attended the ceremony. Those who were present included Sir David Brewer, Chairman of CBBC, Lord Clement-Jones, Vice Chairman of APPCG, Sebastian Wood, Director of the Asia-Pacific directorate, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, David Schlesinger, Reuters Editor-in-Chief.

At the ceremony a banner that read "Deep Condolences to the Victims of the Sichuan Earthquakes" hang in the front of the hall. There were flowers and candles. People came early. They stopped to take a look at the screen that showed the disaster figures and pictures of the rescue work. Some shed tears.

At 14:28pm, people stood in silent tribute for three minutes to express their deep condolences to the victims of the earthquakes.

In the ceremony, Chinese cellist Dandi Wang played Haydn's Concerto in D major, which touched everybody's heart. Towards the end, three children of the embassy walked into the hall with candles in hand and read a poem to commemorate the children who had died in the earthquakes: Dear brothers and sisters, we played together minutes ago. Why you leave in such a haste? The road to heaven is crowded. Don't cry and don't be afraid. We will remember you forever. In love we become brave and strong. Many people were moved into tears. Chinese singer Dongjun Wang sang George Frideric Handel's Ombra mai fu to express sympathy to the victims of the earthquakes.

Ambassador Fu Ying said in her speech: It is now the 10th day since the earthquake in Sichuan. We have been watching with tears and sorrow as the tragedy unfolded. We felt nothing but admiration for our national leaders, who responded so quickly to the needs of the people. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the 140,000 soldiers and armed police, doctors, nurses, and volunteers, who brought 6,453 people out of the rubble.

Every day I am hoping that this figure will rise further. Just now I heard that the latest miracle is the rescue of a 38 year old woman after 216 hours. She survived on rainwater and insects. The whole country is holding its breath for her recovery.

All these days, I cannot but marvel at the strength and dignity of human life in the face of such an overwhelming disaster. A 3 month old baby was found under his mother's body. Also found in his blanket was a mobile with the mother's last message: "My baby, if you survive, always remember I love you." 80 hours after the quake, a 17 year old boy was rescued from the wreckage and the first thing he asked, in front of the camera, was "Can I have a coke?" and he added, "With ice, please." His good-humored confidence has brought smiles to a country in grief. His confidence in life is immensely encouraging.

Indeed, the earthquake has neither robbed the people of Sichuan of their spirit nor their dignity. Instead, it has brought the whole country together. This same courage in the face of adversity, the respect for life, and the resilience that have sustained the Chinese nation through the ages continues to define who we are as a people.

Fu Ying went on to say: During all this time, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support from Great Britain.

Her Majesty the Queen sent a letter of sympathy. The Prime Minister came yesterday to sign the book of condolence. On behalf of Britain, he generously pledged tents to shelter 30,000 people, which is really a timely help. The Foreign Secretary, the Secretary for International Development, Leader of the Opposition and other political leaders all conveyed their condolences. The business community offered generous donations. We were flooded with more than 2,000 emails and letters and many calls. The British public has made the grief of strangers its very own. On behalf of the Chinese people and government, I hereby extend our sincere thanks and deep appreciation.

In Sichuan now, more than 5 million people have lost homes. We expect more rain and aftershocks. We need more tents. Out of the 1.1 million tents required, only 200,000 are available. The Embassy plans to spend all the 350,000 pounds we have received in donations on additional tents. Healing the trauma and putting lives back together will be a long-term endeavor. We look forward to closer cooperation with Britain and the international community.

I want to mention that, the whole crisis has come under enormous media attention. Hundreds of Chinese journalists reported from the ground around the clock. The international media filed back live images that showed a real China open for the world to see. China is a country half way through its reforms. The government enacted the regulations on information transparency on May 1st this year to further ensure people's right to information. And we have seen this regulation in action through the open, continuous and candid coverage of the disaster by the Chinese media.

Fu Ying concluded by mentioning the Olympics: The Olympics is fast approaching. If anything, the earthquake has made the Chinese people more resolute about putting on a successful Olympic games. Even a little girl in Sichuan, who just moved to a tent, told a journalist that she wants to watch the Olympics Games. Just as the people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sichuan in their time of grief, the Olympics will be an occasion for China and the world to celebrate life.

Sir David Brewer, Lord Clement-Jones, Stephen Perry and representative of JCB, a company that had donated 6 loaders to the Sichuan disaster areas spoke at the ceremony. They expressed their shock and sadness at the earthquake and took the chance to extend their sincere condolences to all the people in the disaster-hit areas. They said that the British people could feel the pain of the Chinese people, that they were impressed by the efficiency, openness and transparency of the Chinese leaders in leading hundreds of thousands rescue worker in the relief work and that the British side was willing to provide assistance at any time.

The ceremony was uniquely designed, elegant and solemn. Many people broke down to tears.

Sky News broadcasted Fu Ying's speech live. The presenter repeated the moving stories that Fu Ying said. BBC's News Night also broadcast footages of the speech.
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