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President Xi visits quake zone, stresses reconstruction

CHENGDU, May 23 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping has asked local governments in southwest China's Sichuan Province, which was hit by a strong earthquake last month, to shift their focus to rehabilitation.

During a visit to hard-hit Lushan County, Xi urged local governments to carefully evaluate the damage and draft a rehabilitation plan based on local conditions.

The rehabilitation program should not only consider local economic and social conditions, but also provide a chance for quake-hit areas to upgrade and realize sustainable growth, Xi said.

Local governments should create preferential rehabilitation policies targeting investment, taxation, land use, employment and social security, he said.

Rehabilitation should also include the participation of the private sector and local residents, he said.

"We should encourage local people's initiative to help themselves, to rebuild their local economy and improve their own livelihood," he said.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan on April 20, killing at least 196 people.

Currently, a major work of governments is to help local people get through the hard times by providing medical treatment, necessities, drinking water, food and temporary shelter, President Xi said at a meeting with local officials on Tuesday evening.

He stressed that efforts should be made to restore normality in schools, provide psychological counselling and maintain law and order.

The president acknowledged quake rescue and relief progress made by the Sichuan provincial government and the armed forces.

"A serious disaster tests the capacity of local Party organs and members, and also presents a chance to improve their performance," said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Local CPC organs in quake-hit regions should educate officials and members and improve their working style, he said.

"Where there are dangers and difficulties, there are CPC members," Xi said.

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