National Emergency Response Center Slated for Beijing

Meteorological disasters, coupled with a high economic density are taking their toll on China. So much so that the Chinese government is investing millions of yuan in creating a national emergency response command center in Beijing.

Management of the command center will report directly to the heads of government departments currently tasked with managing emergencies, including the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration.

Although each department is capable of managing a single disaster, the government felt precautionary measures and emergency response were not adequate to protect lives and property without a centralized organization that could manage all the resources necessary to handle a large disaster.

The United Nations has estimated that losses could be reduced by as much as 30 to 40 percent if adequate precautions are taken. In fact, the Chinese cite Hurricane Katrina as an example of what they are trying to avoid. That disaster, which killed thousands, also caused the United States economic losses of $100 billion to $200 billion.

China's natural disasters -- including droughts, rainstorms, floods and tropical storms - affect as many as 600 million people every year, with economic losses amounting to 3 to 6 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

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