China will continue to perform its duties in international humanitarian affairs, especially in overseas search and rescue work after earthquakes, a senior official of the China Earthquake Administration said yesterday.
"When natural disasters occurred in other countries, we will actively take part in international rescue work as we did before," said Zhao Heping, deputy director of the administration, at a press conference of the Asian-Pacific Regional Earthquake Exercise, which ended yesterday in Shijiazhuang, capital city of north China's Hebei Province.
China's main body for international earthquake rescue work, the China International Search and Rescue (CISAR) Team, was established in 2001.
Since 2003, the team has been to five international search and rescue missions: The 2003 magnitude 6.7 Algeria earthquake and magnitude 7.0 Iran Bam earthquake, the 2004 Indonesia tsunami disaster, the 2005 magnitude 7.8 Pakistan earthquake and the 2006 magnitude 6.2 Indonesia Yogyakarta earthquake.
The CISAR team did a demonstration exercise yesterday to 17 foreign national search and rescue teams from the Asian-Pacific region, Europe and America.
Arjun Katoch, chief of the Field Coordination Support Section of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' Emergency Services Branch, spoke highly of the CISAR team's performance.
"The work of the CISAR team was up to international standards, no matter where they are working," he told China Daily.
Katoch said the CISAR team should also enhance its level of professional training. Sources said a research and rescue professional training center will be established in Beijing.
"I hope the training facilities could also serve professionals from other countries," Katoch said.
Zhao said the equipment standard of the CISAR team should be updated.
"The equipment, adopted when the CISAR team was established, was up to international standards five years ago. But the equipment is now somewhat out of fashion," he said.
The safety of CISAR team members in rescues overseas should be better guaranteed, Zhao said.
The official said improvements will be made in these fields, and the team's air-transportation ability, in coming years to make the CISAR team more capable in international search and rescue work.
(China Daily August 8, 2006)