The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: May 17, 2010 NO. 20 MAY 20, 2010
Two Years of Sichuan Recovery
Reconstruction efforts help rebuild Sichuan Province and repair lives following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake


VITAL LINK: A high-speed train runs from Chengdu to Dujiangyan in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 10. The railway began operating on May 12 as part of efforts to rebuild Sichuan's transportation network (JIANG HONGJING) 

May 12 marked the second anniversary of the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake that jolted southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2008.

The quake left more than 86,600 people dead or missing and millions homeless.

Now, after 700 days of relief efforts, the people of Sichuan are getting back on their feet and rebuilding their homes. Their lives are taking on new looks, too.


After two years of reconstruction, major economic and social improvements have been made in the quake-hit areas, said Liu Qibao, Secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), at a review meeting of post-quake reconstruction on May 8.

By April 30, construction had started on 28,886 projects, accounting for 97.2 percent of the 29,704 projects slated for completion under the general reconstruction plan, Liu said. Some 678.75 billion yuan ($99.38 billion) has been invested in rebuilding the quake-hit areas, accounting for 72.3 percent of the total planned investment.

Last year, the Central Government's public investment was 924.3 billion yuan ($135.33 billion). "Of this, 14 percent was invested in post-Wenchuan quake recovery and reconstruction," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report to the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, in March.

The 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, which were committed to providing help for a country in quake-hit area respectively, also invested more than 77 billion yuan ($11.27 billion) in the post-quake reconstruction and 3,356 projects were confirmed.

"With the government's strong support and efforts from all circles, the economies in the 51 worst-hit counties in Sichuan achieved 15.8 percent growth in the past year," Liu said.

Due to the severe earthquake and its aftershocks, a total of 1.45 million farmers' houses were damaged in different degrees.

The latest statistics provided by the Sichuan Provincial Government on May 8 showed that the 1.263 million permanent farmhouses had been rebuilt by the end of last year. About 196,000—roughly 99 percent—farmhouses damaged during the aftershock were also rebuilt or repaired.

Sichuan Provincial Education Department said 2,997 schools in 39 of the worst hit counties were completed or nearing completion, accounting for 99.83 percent of the 3,002 schools that needed to be rebuilt. Of those structures 388 are still under construction while 2,609 had been completed by May 5.

Recovery work on damaged communication facilities in Sichuan has also been basically accomplished, said the Sichuan Communications Administration. By April 30, the telecommunications industry in Sichuan had invested 17.54 billion yuan ($2.57 billion) in the recovery projects. The broadband accessibility rate of villages and towns in the quake-hit areas had reached 99.4 percent, the administration said.

Sichuan's transportation network will also be considerably improved—a total of 216 transport projects are currently under construction, including 12 highways, 88 national and provincial main roads, 23 railways, 15 airports and 49 village roads, said Hou Xiongfei, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of the CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee.

"With the gradual completion of more reconstruction projects, especially those livelihood projects, the emphasis of the post-quake reconstruction will shift to improving the development capacity of the quake-hit areas," Liu said.

New lives

About 2,200 babies have been born to families who lost children in the earthquake, family planning authorities said.

"It was the greatest blessing to have the new baby. He helped bring hope back into our lives," said Li Juan, holding her 14-month-old boy, at a charity event held by the Chinese Red Cross Foundation in Beijing on May 6.

Li, a native of Pengzhou in Sichuan, lost her 5-year-old son in the quake two years ago.

Li and her husband are among thousands of couples in the quake-hit area that have welcomed a new baby. All have benefited from a reproduction assistance campaign conducted by the National Population and Family Planning Commission in quake areas.

"With a service card distributed by local family planning officials, I received several services like consultations before pregnancy, medical examinations during the pregnancy, delivery at quality hospitals and follow-up doctor visits, all for free," said Li Chaorong, 32, who gave birth to a baby girl last year. She is also a native of Pengzhou.

By the end of April, some 3,140 women in the area who lost children in the quake were pregnant.

"For those who were older than 35, a more difficult age for pregnancies, assisted reproductive technology was also provided by local quality institutions, also free of charge," said Li Zeying, Vice Chairperson of the Sichuan Provincial Women's Federation.

More than 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) was allocated by central and local governments for the project, official statistics show.

Caring for the orphans


FAMILY AGAIN: Huang Changrong (left) and her one-year-old boy play with neighbors at their new home in Mianzhu, Sichuan Province, on May 10, 2010. Huang's daughter died in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake which hit the area on May 12, 2008 (CHEN XIE) 

On August 26, 2009, Ankang Jiayuan, China's largest welfare house for Wenchuan earthquake orphans, was completed in Shuangliu County near Chengdu. Since then, the welfare house has become the new home for more than 200 children who lost their parents in the quake.

Statistics from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs show a total of 630 children lost their parents in the quake and only 12 were adopted. The others were placed in welfare homes or under the care of relatives.

Besides quake orphans, Ankang is also home to more than 400 children who lost their parents before the quake and those whose families are too poor to support them. All children in the home are between 5 and 18 years old, said Qiu Lin, vice head of the welfare house.

Qiu said the welfare home has nearly 100 specially trained tutors to take care of children. One tutor usually takes care of six to eight children.

In order to give each child the proper amount of care and attention, the county government of Shuangliu set up a special administration office for the welfare house. The children are sent to study at the neighboring Tanghu Primary School and Jiujiang Middle School, a new campus built for children in Ankang. The two schools were funded by Shandong-based Rizhao Steel Holding Group.

The group donated about 130 million yuan ($19 million) for the construction of the dormitories and schools. The fund also covers the children's study and living costs.

The children moved to Ankang Jiayuan in August last year. Before that, they lived in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, for a few months after the quake.

Every child there has a monthly allowance of 510 yuan ($74.67) until they turn 18, Qiu said.

Some of the children in the welfare house are still suffering psychological trauma from the quake, Qiu said.

"We have had psychological experts come here to talk to them. A test conducted by the No.6 Hospital of Peking University at the end of last year showed that most of them have already recovered mentally. Now the emphasis has shifted from helping them recover to bringing them up to be good knowledgeable kids."

Psychological treatment

Nine in every 10 Wenchuan earthquake survivors suffering from psychological disorders have not yet received treatment, said Zhang Wei, Deputy Director of the West China Hospital in Chengdu.

Most patients did not even realize they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while others were too shy to seek help from a consultant, he said.

Zhang has led a team for post-quake psychological treatment since the devastating earthquake happened two years ago.

"The quake affected about 30 million people. With a prevalence rate of PTSD of up to 4 percent, there are more than 1 million patients out there. It's a large number," Zhang said.

"A typical symptom of PTSD is to often recall the disaster. For example, a woman who witnessed the death of her husband in the quake has continued to replay the scene in her mind, which is now seriously affecting her life and work," he said.

"Many who suffer tend to regard the flashbacks they experience as natural memories of what happened, instead of what they really are, namely, psychological disorders," he said.

He said that while the prevalence rate for PTSD applied to general survivors of the Wenchuan quake, the rates were even higher for specific groups who endured the disaster, including students and officials.

"Students are vulnerable to the disorder because many of them witnessed the death of their peers," he said, adding that officials, including police officers, were also vulnerable because they not only experienced the quake, but were also subjected to pressure in their dual roles of saving lives and aiding reconstruction.

In addition to PTSD, anxiety, hypersensitivity, sleeping disorders and depression were also seen among earthquake survivors, he said.

While Zhang's team has been making every effort to provide psychological counseling to the survivors, more grassroots support is needed.

"We hope that officials at all levels of government understand the importance of psychological consultation," he said.

Zhang and his team, who expect the project to last for at least 10 years, are currently training local doctors to assist with the project, because many patients feel more comfortable with doctors they already know and trust.

"Post-quake psychological reconstruction is never a short-term job," he said. "Without mental intervention, negative symptoms could last up to 20 years.

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved