Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday paid a one-minute silent tribute in Beijing to the victims of the earthquake in northwest China.
Former President Jiang Zemin also expressed his condolences.
The nine members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China(CPC) Central Committee, including Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, all in dark suits, stood solemnly and bowed their heads to mourn the dead at the beginning of a meeting in the central leadership compound of Zhongnanhai.
National flags flew at half-mast at government agencies in the Chinese capital on Wednesday and all public entertainment was suspended.
At Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing, thousands of people watched the national flag hoisted to full height and then lowered to half-mast at about 5:33 a.m..
During his visit to the quake-hit region on Sunday, President Hu vowed to help quake-affected people rebuild their homes as most of them now only had tents with the most basic facilities.
During a two-day visit to the quake zone last week, Premier Wen Jiabao went to quake-devastated schools, orphanages, monasteries and camps for quake-displaced people, conveying his sympathy and concern on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to the quake victims.
Because of the devastating earthquake in Qinghai, President Hu cut short his trip to South America, postponing visits to Venezuela and Chile originally scheduled for last week, while Premier Wen delayed his visits to Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar scheduled for April 22-25.
The 7.1-magnitude quake that struck Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai Province, last week left 2,064 dead and 175 people were still missing as of Tuesday. The quake had also left 12,135 injured, of whom 1,434 were in serious condition.
The Chinese people continued to donate for the quake-hit zone in northwestern province of Qinghai on Tuesday, while getting ready for a nationwide mourning for those killed in the April 14 earthquake on Wednesday.
A TV charity show on Tuesday evening raised 2.175 billion yuan (about 319 million U.S. dollars) in donations for the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, where the 7.1-magnitude quake has left at least 2,064 people dead, 175 missing, and 12,135 injured by Tuesday.
In the small hours of Wednesday, most websites and news portals in China have already turned black and white as part of the national mourning, which will be formally kicked off on Wednesday morning.
The Chinese flag will be lowered to half-mast around the country and at embassies and consulates abroad Wednesday in a show of respect for those killed in Qinghai Province, the State Council ordered Tuesday.
Public entertainment would also be suspended Wednesday, the State Council, China's cabinet, said in an announcement.
Following the announcement, the Ministry of Culture issued an urgent circular, ordering administrative departments to strengthen supervision of entertainment venues and to punish those violating the rule.
Besides entertainment venues such as cinemas, theaters, karaoke bars, dance clubs and Internet cafes, website groups should also suspend all online services of music, games, comics, films and TV shows.
The fund-rasing show, broadcast live nationwide by China Central Television, was made up of songs, poem reading and live interviews, with interludes of brief donation ceremonies.
The donations mainly came from the country's performing artists, dignitaries, news organizations as well as private and state-owned enterprises. The donations will be channelled to the quake zone through the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Red Cross Society of China.
In addition, China's private enterprises nationwide had given 529 million yuan (77.6 million U.S. dollars) as of 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Material donations also reached 94 million yuan (14 million U.S. dollars) in value, said Zhu Ping, vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
The Chinese government allocated another 300 million yuan (43.9 million U.S. dollars), the Ministry of Finance said Tuesday.
Shanghai companies, government officials, common citizens had donated 150 million yuan (22 million U.S. dollars), as of Tuesday afternoon.
By 4 p.m. Tuesday, 34,468 tents, 77,402 cotton quilts, 55,407 cotton-stuffed coats, 1,106 tonnes of drinking water and instant noodles had been sent to quake zone.
Meanwhile, snow continued to fall on the earthquake zone in rugged northwestern plateau Tuesday, snarling traffic and slowing delivery of badly needed relief goods.
Since late Monday, roads leading to the quake-stricken Yushu county in Qinghai Province have all experienced snow or rain, adding to the difficult delivery of relief goods, said a local weather forecast official.
In some parts, snow on the road accumulated to 4 cm in depth and in others, ice formed on the surface, making it harder for vehicles to move, said Ma Yuancang, vice head of Qinghai provincial meteorology bureau.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday that emergency shelters and new homes in northwest China's Qinghai Province quake zone took priority in spending donations.
In an urgent circular issued late Tuesday, the ministry urged provincial civil affairs authorities to ensure effective and transparent use of relief donations.
The latest overall number from the ministry showed the province had received donations of 375 million yuan (54.9 million U.S. dollars) in cash as well as goods and supplies worth 61.18 million yuan by Sunday.
The ministry said in the circular an accounting system must be set up to keep track of donations, and expenditure must be made public.
It also asked the local authorities to strengthen supervision of the donations and vowed harsh punishments for offenses like embezzlement.
The ministry issued another circular Tuesday, saying relief supplies should be first given to the seriously injured as well as priority groups of pregnant women, children, the disabled and orphans.
A 7.1-magnitude quake jolted Yushu prefecture Wednesday morning, leaving at least 2,046 people dead and 12,135 injured.
The Chinese government has allocated another 300 million yuan (43.9 million U.S. dollars) to quake relief in the northwest Qinghai Province on top of 200 million yuan earmarked last week, the Ministry of Finance said Tuesday.
The fund would support relief efforts, including evacuations, resettlement, medical care, disease prevention, infrastructure repairs and the re-opening of schools, said a statement on the ministry's website.
A 7.1-magnitude quake jolted Yushu county of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu on Wednesday. At least 2,046 people are dead and 12,135 injured.
The international community has highly commended the Chinese government for its quick and efficient relief efforts after last week's earthquake in the northwestern province of Qinghai.
Many foreign leaders and media outlets also showed solidarity with the Chinese people and hoped the affected people will overcome difficulties and rebuild their homes as soon as possible.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, on behalf of his nation, expressed sympathy for the earthquake victims and sent condolences to their families and other people affected by the disaster. He said he highly appreciated the efforts of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders in leading the disaster relief work. The king also spoke highly of the ongoing relief work in the quake zone.
Tanzanian Prime Minister Peter Mizengo Pinda sent condolences to the Chinese government and the Chinese people, and praised China's quick response to the disaster.
He said he was impressed by President Hu and Premier Wen, who stood together with the Chinese people at such a critical moment and traveled to the quake-stricken areas to direct disaster relief work.
New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement that China has a very good disaster emergency response mechanism. Although the earthquake took place in a remote mountainous region, the Chinese government managed to conduct relief work quickly.
He announced that his country will provide humanitarian aid worth some 280,000 U.S. dollars through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
In an article entitled "Never give up," the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun said although 72 hours have passed since the earthquake struck and the best opportunity for finding any survivors has gone, Chinese rescue workers were still making full efforts in their search and rescue work.
The article praised Chinese leaders' quick response to the disaster. President Hu cut short his foreign trip and returned home to direct relief work, and Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, also shortened his visit and returned home, it mentioned.
Another Japanese newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, commended the Chinese government for its quick and efficient response to the quake, especially in giving out relief supplies to the residents in the affected areas.
It also quoted Premier Wen as saying in the quake zone that the top priority is saving lives. "Even when there is only the slightest hope, we will do our best, and we will never give up," Wen said.
The Wall Street Journal spoke highly of the Chinese leaders' personal participation in the quick relief work. President Hu cut short his trip in Latin America and flew to the quake zone on Sunday to give instructions to the relief work, it said.
Locals said President Hu and Premier Wen's visits to the quake area calmed the local residents and boosted their morale, the paper said.
(Xinhua)


Gallery