5.3 Premier Wen’s Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization
Mr. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization,
Ms. Louise Frechette, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,
All Delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
At this October time when Beijing is offering us its charming autumn scenery in the fresh air and clearest weather, the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization is officially opened here. On behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to extend our sincere welcome to all the guests here and to express our warm congratulations on the convening of this session.//
Tourism is a nice and pleasant activity that combines sightseeing, recreation and health care. Tourism has been developing all along with the progress of the times. Since the middle of the 20th century, modern tourism has been growing at a fast pace around the world. The number of tourists has ever been on the rise, the scale of the tourism industry has been in constant expansion, and the position of tourism in the economy has clearly risen.
Tourism serves gradually as an important bridge of cultural
exchange, friendship and further exchanges, and exerts more and more extensive influence on the human life and social progress among various countries. //
As a country with a civilization with a long history, China is also a big oriental country full of modern vitality, not to mention its unique, rich and varied tourism resources. Besides the picturesque natural scenery, profound history and extensive
culture, China embodies the different folk customs of 56 nationalities. Currently, there are 29 places that have been listed as World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. Thanks to the
further push by the opening up and reform, China’s modern construction is surging ahead, and the cities and the country are experiencing daily changes. The ancient glory of China and its modern boom add radiance and charm to each other, joining to create most favorable conditions for developing our domestic
and international tourism. //
The first 20 years of the 21 century represent an important strategic period for China to achieve the all-round construction of a well-off society and to speed up its socialist modernization. It also provides a favorable time for the further development of China’s tourism industry. We shall promote tourism as an important industry in
China’s national economy, properly protect and utilize our tourism resources and try to achieve sustainable tourism development. The Chinese government welcomes all international friends to visit China. We shall do our best to protect their health and safety; and at the same time encourages more Chinese people to go abroad for visits. We are ready to develop extensive cooperation with other counties and contribute to global tourism growth.//
For many years, the World Tourism Organization has made active and effective efforts for the promotion of tourism prosperity and development around the globe. The World Tourism Organization has become a specialized agency of the United Nations. We would like to offer our sincere congratulations. We believe this WTO General Assembly session will give a major push to the further prosperity and development of tourism in the world.//
Finally, I wish the 15th General Assembly Session of the World Tourism Organization every success.
13.3 The Indian Ocean Tsunami
The Indian Ocean tsunami, which took place in late 2004, shocked and grieved the whole world. It swept many Indian Ocean countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The death toll reached 300,000 of whom 100,000 were Indonesians. Lots of families lost their loved ones. During this unexpected disaster, the number of people who suffered directly or indirectly reached 5 million. The international community has given disaster relief aid and donations to the disaster-stricken areas. The aid from the Chinese government and people was over 1.2 billion RMB. Such a great disaster in the 21st century deserves pondering. Reflecting upon the disaster, people ask why it happened and whether it could have been avoided. People now are revealing in-depth thought and analysis on the cause of the disaster.
First, it was a punishment for humanit y’s behavior against nature. The primary cause of the catastrophe lay in the great number of houses built along the ocean shores and the great damage done to the environment. Earthquakes and their resulting tsunamis are natural phenomena. However, this tsunami claimed tens of thousands of lives. We cannot wholly attribute it to nature because human beings have expropriated places that should not be expropriated. Numerous hotels and restaurants were built along the seafront in many countries in order to attract tourists. This has undoubtedly increased the risk of being struck by natural disasters. Some experts have pointed out that coral reefs and mangroves in the shallow water areas could have protected people from the tsunami. However, in the past 20 or 30 years, people have fished and farmed shrimp and logged mangroves in excess. As a result, people have paid a heavy price.
Secondly, the lack of preventive and warning mechanisms against tsunami left people completely unprepared and unprotected. The earthqua ke itself didn’t cause the huge damage, but the tsunami that followed it 2 hours afterwards when many areas had already felt the
quake. Had there been an effective preventive and warning mechanism, the local people would have had enough time to get clear. The death toll and other losses would have been minimized. After the disaster, some state leaders gave speeches urging the international community to take preventive measures and to minimize the losses caused by natural disasters like the tsunami. People should learn lessons from it and take on the responsibility to protect the global environment. The governments of the countries concerned should work together to establish a preventive and warning mechanism. The international community should also learn lessons from the Indian Ocean tsunami and find out what still needs to be done, and raise people’s awareness of how to survive earthquakes and tsunamis. Though we cannot avoid similar disasters, we can certainly minimize the losses through our concerted efforts.