Premier Wen Jiabao is visiting the quake-jolted Sichuan province as China's most celebrated holiday is almost here. He is scheduled to celebrate the Lunar New Year Eve on Sunday evening in Wenchuan, the most severely devastated area in the province in the May 12 earthquake that killed nearly 70,000 people.
Braving the freezing temperature, Wen arrived in the southwestern province of Sichuan Saturday in time for the traditional Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Monday, January 26, 2009.
This is the seventh time for Wen to visit the province after it was badly hit by a 8.0-magnitude quake on May 12, 2008.
After visiting Beichuan Saturday, Wen went to the city of Deyang and arrived at its biggest hospital, the People's Hospital of Deyang, at about 9:15 a.m Sunday morning, expressing his condolences and solidarity for those still hospitalized for injuries inflicted in the disaster.
In a five-minute address at the square in front of the hospital, he expressed gratitude to hospital staff for their efforts to treat the injured in the aftermath of the quake. He also wished them a happy Spring Festival and a prosperous future. He left the hospital at 9:40 a.m.
Also in the city, Wen met with police and extended Lunar New Year greetings to them. Then he visited the severely-damaged Oriental Turbine Factory in Mianzhu of the province.
After lunch, Wen is scheduled to visit Wenchuan where he would spend the night and celebrate the Lunar New Year Eve with quake survivors.
Currently, post-quake recovery, which is expected to involve one-trillion-yuan (US$146 billion) investment in the coming three years, is under smooth progress. And all the quake-hit farmers will be moving into new homes by this September and about 70 percent of key post-recovery projects are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Wen will make official visits to Switzerland, Germany, the EU headquarters, Spain and Britain from January 27 to February 2, exactly after his visits to Sichuan province comforting those losing their beloved, or being injured, or losing property in the quake.