Text by Mu Mu
In the early afternoon of May 12, 2008, a devastating 8.0 earthquake jolted southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, with Wenchuan County at the epicenter. It was China’s deadliest quake since 1976’s Tangshan earthquake and has been called the most devastating since the founding of New China, causing 69,227 confirmed fatalities along with 17,923 missing and 374,634 injured, according to official statistics as of September 2008. Economic losses have been estimated at more than 845.1 billion yuan, with over 500,000 square kilometers of land leveled.
Just three short years after Wenchuan was razed by the disaster, starkly different vistas can be seen in the area today. Broad streets accent white-walled and gray-tiled residences designed in typical western Sichuan style, colorful houses with Tibetan and Qiang ethnic flavor, and modern cosmopolitan-looking buildings. A tranquil aura envelops the new town, and for locals, life goes on in new houses erected on top of yesterday’s debris.
This miracle of resurrection can be attributed to tireless efforts of the Chinese people over the past three years. Weeks after the quake, the State Council formulated a pairing assistance plan for post-quake recovery and reconstruction, inspiring two-thirds of Chinese provinces and municipalities, as well as Hong Kong, into action, providing direct one-to-one support to each of the most critically-damaged counties in Sichuan. The central government earmarked 300 billion yuan to ensure healthy recovery along with enacting preferential policies related to taxation, financial support, land use, and legislation. Over the 36 months, reconstruction efforts, aiming at sustainable long-term development of quake-devastated areas, have resulted in groundbreaking progress. The leveled towns have taken on brand new looks, and in many places, economic growth has already eclipsed pre-quake figures. Hundreds of thousands of people are looking ahead with renewed optimism evidenced by the transformation of so many once-bleak gazes that now glow with courage and confidence.
In this issue, we invite our readers to follow our lenses to gain an insight into the brighter chapters of a formerly heartbreaking tale.