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Aid reaches remote Chinese quake zone

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President Hu Jintao arrives in quake-stricken Yushu in China's Qinghai Province

President Hu Jintao arrives in quake-stricken Yushu in China's Qinghai Province

President Hu Jintao arrives in quake-stricken Yushu in China's Qinghai Province

Badly-needed aid has finally arrived in a remote western Chinese town shattered by a massive earthquake, including enough food and shelter for tens of thousands of homeless people.

The surge in aid coincided with the arrival on Sunday of Chinese president Hu Jintao, who cut short an official trip to South America to deal with the disaster in the remote Tibetan region of Jiego where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule.

Tibetan anger over political and religious restrictions and perceived economic exploitation by the majority Han Chinese have sometimes erupted in violence.

Wednesday's quake killed 1,706 people and injured 12,128.

The president's carefully-scripted trip included visits with displaced families living in tents and rescue teams as they dug through debris looking for the 256 still missing.

Mr Hu promised that the Communist Party and the government was doing everything they could.

China Central Television showed Mr Hu sitting with a Tibetan middle-school student at a field hospital and comforting her as she wept. Her right arm was bandaged and supported by a sling.

Hu and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Jiegu on Thursday, have both cultivated compassionate, grandfatherly images to portray the leadership as putting people first.

From 1988 to 1992 Mr Hu was the party boss of Tibet, next to Qinghai province where the earthquake struck, and he has a mixed reputation among ethnic Tibetans.

As a hardline governor, he oversaw the imposition of martial law in Tibet in 1989 after anti-government violence erupted there and as the country's leader, he has maintained a firm line on dissent while also championing policies that have funnelled billions in aid and investment to Tibetan areas.

PA