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China's mainland and Taiwan forge closer links amid hard economic times
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A Heartwarming Winter
UPDATED: December-31-2008 Web Exclusive
A Heartwarming Winter
Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County in southwest China's Sichuan Province was one of the worst hit regions in the devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12. Reconstruction work began almost immediately, despite further natural disasters including downpours, landslides and floods.

Locals, who were forced to see the harsher side of life in the quake, show their confidence, bravery and fortitude as they prepare for the first Chinese Lunar New Year since the quake

Zhu Xiaorong (right) and her family in front of their half-completed house on December 3. Zhu said the quake brought her family closer (RAO QIANG)

Zhu Xiaorong lives in Gaitou Village in Leigu Town, southern Beichuan. More than 90 percent of the buildings housing the village's 140 families were razed to the ground in the quake; Zhu's was no exception.

"The reconstruction started soon after disaster relief supplies--tents, food, drinking water provider vehicles, bricks--reached here, within days," Zhu told Beijing Review.

"Before the quake, we [my husband, mother-in-law and I] met with other relatives only on festival or holiday occasions," Zhu said. "Living together after the quake has brought us closer."

The Zhus have reinforced their house against winter weather by installing more planks and tiles since early December; a new pigsty will soon be ready as well. Moreover, each family in the village will receive a 20,000 yuan ($2,800) reconstruction allowance from the government.

Currently, 7,361 permanent houses have been established in Beichuan; 16,892 temporary houses have been winterized.

According to Chen Xingchun, Party Secretary of Beichuan, the local government has taken measures to protect residents from the winter chill.

"Winter relief supplies--quilts, clothes and hot water bags--have been distributed to every Beichuan local, and disease-prevention efforts have intensified," Chen said. "We will try our best to ensure a safe and warm winter here in the region."

Wu Hong lives in a temporary residential complex in Qushan Town, not far from Zhu's home. Every night at 7 o'clock, Wu and her female neighbors dance guozhuangwu, a traditional ethnic Qiang dance.

"It [dancing] can bring us joy and happiness, which is also sort of a protection and inheritance from our ethnic culture," she told Beijing Review. "We are too scared to lose because we've lost too much in the quake.

"To be honest, it took me quite a long time to recover from the fact that my husband, son and mother-in-law died in the quake," said Wu, who lives with her 14-year-old daughter.

"Time can heal pain. I moved on, and so did my fellow villagers," she said. "With support from the government and the people, we are confident about our future."

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