Nov 13

Quiet Reflection of the Sichuan Wen Chuan Earthquake

Written by Allen on Thursday, November 13th, 2008 at 6:23 am
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When historians look back to 2008, they may well consider China’s response to the 8+ magnitude Wen Chuan Earthquake as a key defining milestone in China’s long road to modernization.

2008 by all accounts would be a big year.  Not only would it be the year of the Olympics, but it would also mark the 30 year anniversary of Deng’s economic reforms.

The year however started with a series of disasters, featuring a series of freakish snow storms over the Chinese New Year as well as riots in Lhasa in March.  In the advent of the much maligned Torch Relay, there were even doubts about the prospects of Beijing successfully hosting the much anticipated Olympic Games.

But the Sichuan Earthquake changed everything.  The way the country – and Chinese from all over the world – came together to help the victims of Sichuan and surrounding areas in the quake’s aftermath made many realize that the Chinese People only have themselves to prove and to answer.

The Six Month anniversary of the Sichuan Earthquake is being marked by somber and quiet reflection over a great tragedy as well as … I think … an appreciation of the hidden strength of the Chinese people.

We Chinese as a nation may still have some ways to go to be where we want to be.  But we are comforted by the fact that if we work together, we will inevitably reach our goal and in the process make the world a better place.

Below are excerpts of a report from Xin Hua News about the opening of a memorial park commemorating the earthquake:

The first memorial park to the 87,000 dead and missing from China’s May 12 earthquake opened on Wednesday in the southwestern Sichuan Province.

The Y-shaped park, spanning almost 50 square kilometers in the countryside of Qingchuan County, is centered on a huge rock erected on the ruins of Donghekou Village and inscribed with “2008–5.12–14:28”, the exact date and time of the 8-magnitude quake.

Many landforms resulting from the earthquake can be found in the park, such as landslides, cracks, faults and folds.

Thousands of survivors from Qingchuan and elsewhere attended the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning to pay their respects.

“My mother often wakes up screaming at night, She cannot accept the fact even now,” villager Yang Haiqiong said of her mother Jiang Wanqiong. They lost 10 family members in the quake, and only five survived.

Donghekou Village was completely buried under landslides, with more than 780 people dead.

Another huge rock in the park was painted with a red large Chinese character for “xie” (Thanks), and villager He Xianmei was seen cleaning the rock with a white towel on Wednesday morning.

“The xie character expresses our great gratitude to everyone who helped us. No dirt should be seen on it,” he said.

“It also tells us survivors to care for each other and live well in the rest of our lives.”

The quake centered in Wenchuan County left more than 69,000 people dead, 374,000 injured, 18,000 missing and millions homeless.

More than 31,000 aftershocks have been reported since, with the strongest measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.

In terms of the intensity and scope of destruction, the May 12 quake is believed to have surpassed the 7.8-magnitude quake in 1976 in Tangshan, northern Hebei Province, which claimed more than 240,000 lives.

Here are some pictures collected from various sources.

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7 Responses to “Quiet Reflection of the Sichuan Wen Chuan Earthquake”

  1. Wukailong Says:

    “a series of freakish snow storms”

    Wow, I barely remember those. In retrospect, they seem like quite a limited problem compared to all the other things that happened.

  2. wuming Says:

    Much was made of the fact that only 12 of the orphans were adopted. As I understand it, relatives and folks simply would not allow them to be adopted outside of the communities. My brother told me that he would have liked to adopt an earthquake orphan and was told such possibility does not exist.

  3. TonyP4 Says:

    Random thoughts.

    Chou Enlai with his 4 modernization plan should be given credit too. Deng changes China forever.

    Tang Shen earthquake should also be remembered. Hope some one will compare these two disasters.

    Carton on this earthquake, sad but powerful:

    I’ve to express thanks to my high school classmate Malcolm who spent his time and effort to go to the site with supplies and evaluated what were needed for the victims.

  4. Raj Says:

    China’s response to the 8+ magnitude Wen Chuan Earthquake as a key defining milestone in China’s long road to modernization

    Like trying to bribe or threaten the parents of dead children to keep their traps shut? Allen, you really could do with putting the pom-poms for the Chinese government away. You seem to cheer for them without realising what you suggest. I’d rather not consider that you keep sweeping things under the carpet.

  5. Allen Says:

    Raj, with critics like you, the CCP definitely need more pom-pom cheerleaders like me! 😀

    In any case, your point is well taken…

  6. Raj Says:

    Raj, with critics like you, the CCP definitely need more pom-pom cheerleaders like me!

    If the CCP mucked out their own stables they wouldn’t get such a bollocking from people like me. 🙁

    I don’t mean to seem mean, but I think the whole earthquake response was turned from a “victory” into a defeat in a series of events that to me happen all too often. The central government takes and interest and vows to do lots of things apart from give help, like protect people’s rights. Then they get bored/find something else to get interested in and the local bullies move in to cover-up their incompetance/corruption.

    I was quite proud of the way China was dealing with it until the usual suppression kicked in. You would have thought Beijing and the regional administrators would have learnt by now that after the immediate interest dies down the crooks seek to cover their tracks. But no for some reason they never learn – or perhaps they put their fingers in their ears and try to ignore it.

  7. Michael Says:


    It does not matter if corruption and threats were used, it is normal in every country. China gets the job done and within a few years the whole place will be rebuilt. We do not want trouble makers slowing down the whole process for the benefit of the whole nation.

    I assume you are Indian..

    If it was India then it would take you 300 years or you never rebuild at all. 🙂 Your country is far far worse, ineffecient, slow and your infrastructure, sports accomplishments etc. are not even comparable to China.
    How many gold medals did you win at Beijing? 1-2? Even african countries won more medals than you. Can you even do basic stuff like building descent roads around your country?

    So there you have it.

    You cannot have expectations on China since we are not a democracy. India is a democracy with lots of expectations and look at what a sorry state it is in.

    Clean your own house first.

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