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Field Reports
Cover Stories Series 2011> Wenchuan Quake:Three Years Later> Beijing Review Exclusive> Field Reports
UPDATED: May 11, 2011 Web Exclusive
A Family in Beichuan


Huang Guiqiong lives in Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Every working day at 8:30 in the morning, she sends her 3-year-old son Dorjee to Yongchang Kindergarten in the newly built town, and takes him home at 5 in the afternoon.

The kindergarten is located just a 10-minute walk from Huang's new home. Last December, a total of 7,397 families including Huang's participated in the lottery allocation for the first batch of the newly built homes. On January 14 this year, Huang, her husband Cheng Piyi and their son moved into an apartment in zone A of Erma Residential Complex. The 106-square-meter house has three bedrooms and two living rooms.

"I love the meaning of this picture - The Rising Sun. I hope our life will get better and better just like the rising sun. I made these embroideries during my spare time when we lived in the resettlement complex. It was a good way to pass the time," Huang said.

Before the 8.0-magnitude quake on May 12, 2008, the Chengs lived in Qushan Township of Beichuan County. When the powerful shock occurred at 2:28 in the afternoon, the Chengs were shaken from the third floor to the second as the foundation of their building collapsed. Cheng immediately pulled his wife and son out of the apartment. They tried to find their daughter for emergency evacuation, but her primary school had been buried when the hillside collapsed.

"Here is the original site of a tobacco company. It used to have five floors, but now only two remained after the quake. My brother-in-law was buried under the debris here," Cheng said.

Although located some 140 km away from the epicenter, Beichuan County was the worst-hit area due to its geological features--it shared the same tectonic plate with the epicenter, and was surrounded by shale mountains. The whole county seat and five townships were razed. On May 25, the 13th day after the quake, the planning for relocating Beichuan County was approved by the Central Government.

The panel with the National Post-Disaster Reconstruction Planning conducted on-site evaluation in more than 20 townships and 300 villages across the county from June to August. A flat plain adjacent to traffic networks was chosen as the new site, which was some 23 km southeast from the original one.

In February 2009, the Ministry of Civil Affairs approved newly added administrative regions for Beichuan County. President Hu Jintao named the new town as Yongchang, which in Chinese means "prosperity forever." Hence, Beichuan became the only relocated county in the quake zone.

After staying with relatives for three months, the Chengs and his mother-in-law moved into the Yongxing Resettlement Residential Complex in the nearby Mianyang City.

"Life in the resettlement residential complex was hard. We spent more than two years there. The winter was cold, while the summer was hot. But now, we are pleased after moving in here," Cheng said. 

"I never thought of such a big house before. I'm very satisfied," Huang said.

East China's Shandong Province was assigned to help with Beichuan's reconstruction under the counterpart assistance scheme. On May 12, 2009, the first reconstruction project--the ground-breaking ceremony for the Beichuan Middle School was held. On September 25, 2010, the newly built county center was transferred to the county government. Local people moved into new houses ahead of the third Spring Festival after the quake.

"The reconstruction projects which Shangdong was responsible for under the counterpart assistance consists of six categories with 82 projects worth over 4.6 billion yuan ($660 million). It includes residential complexes, public welfare facilities, infrastructure, culture and tourism, landscape and ecology, as well as industrial zones," said Du Hongling, Liaison Official from Shandong to Beichuan. "During the reconstruction, Shandong set up a safety supervision team. So far, all the relocation residential projects were awarded the province's top prize for construction quality."

Currently, the new county center has functions including housing, medical care, education, business, tourism and leisure. It also showcases a modern county featuring ethnic Qiang characteristics.

In May 2009, Cheng said his hope was to move into the new county as soon as possible, and for his son to grow up healthy. Now, his wishes are coming true.

"We really appreciate what the government has done for us, because we never thought of relocating at the time this tragedy struck. This year, we spent Spring Festival here in the new house with some friends. They live in zone A6 in the same residential complex. We celebrated the festival together," Cheng said.

Reporter: Do you have any plans for the future?

Wife: I am looking for a job. If there's no suitable one here, I would try somewhere else.

Reporter: How about you?

Husband: I would like to start my own business, and make our life better.

(Reporting from Beichuan)

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