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.[Gallery not found]