Global General

Chinese relics safe, says top diplomat

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-03 08:03
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Chinese relics safe, says top diplomat

Fruit, wine exports to China likely to be unaffected: Ambassador

Beijing: Last Saturday's 8.8-magnitude quake that rocked Chile has not damaged the cultural relics sent from China - including some of its famed terracotta warriors - that have been on display in the South American nation, Chile's top envoy to Beijing told China Daily on Tuesday.

"The terracotta warriors are intact," the Chilean Ambassador to China, Fernando Reyes Matta, said. "Only one other piece of the Chinese relics displayed toppled during the quake, but it was not damaged."

Seven terracotta warriors and horses, along with other Chinese cultural relics, have been on display in the cultural center at the Chilean Government Office since December last year.

The cultural center has quickly implemented anti-quake procedures - a routine step for museums around the country - to protect the Chinese treasures, Reyes Matta said.

The ancient warriors have not been the only ones to escape the ravages of the quake. So far, there have been no reports of deaths or injuries to Chinese citizens from Chile, although three Chinese restaurants in Concepcion, which is near the epicenter, were damaged slightly, said the ambassador.

Compared to the loss of nearly 200,000 lives in the 7.3-magnitude Haiti earthquake in January, the toll from the Chile earthquake, at 723 dead, has been far lower. And, that was not just due to luck, the ambassador said.

"Chile has experienced many earthquakes, including one of the strongest ones in human history, a 9.5-magnitude quake that hit the country in 1960," he said. That one killed thousands and left about two million people homeless.

"So now, Chile is a country that is always prepared for quakes. We have anti-quake stipulations in schools and hospitals, and the buildings follow anti-quake standards. People are very clear they're facing natural disasters every minute. The national emergency office operates round the clock every day."

As for copper prices, which rose sharply on Monday after the quake halted copper mines in Chile, supplier of 35 percent of the world's copper, Reyes Matta said the turbulence will not last long.

At least four copper mines and two oil refineries were closed in Chile as the earthquake suspended electricity supplies. The four mines account for 16 percent of the country's output.

"Chile's copper supplies have resumed and is operating normally now, and the ports sending copper abroad are also working well."

"Actually, we have been worried about our fruit and wine exports to China, but we hope we will be able to fulfill our contracts with China."

The funds for the country's massive reconstruction work will mainly come from domestic and international loans, said the ambassador. Given the country's healthy economy, with almost no public debt, it was not difficult to get fresh loans, he said.

So far, Beijing has announced a donation of $1 million to Chile, but that is only part of the money pouring in to the Chilean embassy in China.

Many Chinese associations and individuals have come forward to help, said Reyes Matta. "After this interview (with China Daily), a Chinese citizen is coming to donate $10,000. On Monday, another Chinese national donated 1 million yuan ($146,500)."

"China is one of the countries that is farthest from Chile, but at the moment, the two nations have come so close."