From Xinhua via China Radio International (CRI):
China's top legislature on Saturday began its first hearing of the draft law on emergency management, aiming to improve the country's ability to handle frequent industrial accidents, natural disasters, health and public security hazards.
The decision to introduce such a law was made in May 2003, during the SARS outbreak, when the government's inexperience in dealing with the emerging crisis led to one of the country's most serious health hazards.
...Four colors of emergency declaration (blue, yellow, orange, and red) would be used to indicate the escalating hazard level, with "red" signaling the most serious (first class) situation...The bill stipulated penalties, including dismissal, for failures of local government officials in handling emergencies, such as failing to take precautionary measures, delaying emergency declarations, or trying to cover up. [Full Text]