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Timeless Qiang Culture
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Timeless Qiang Culture
UPDATED: July 9, 2008  
Bandengqiao Proposed as New Site for Beichuan

Chinese experts for earthquake rescue planning have proposed Bandengqiao of Mianyang as the new site for Beichuan County seat. They consider the place can not only facilitate industrial and economic recovery of Beichuan but also help to conserve the culture of Qiang ethnic group.

According to a CCTV report, after 20 days of assessment and validation Chinese experts for earthquake rescue planning have proposed Bandengqiao of Mianyang as the new site for Beichuan County seat. The expert team has now submitted a preliminary proposal for the new site to the relevant government authorities. The plan anticipates a 3-year reconstruction effort for the main Beichuan County rebuild.

Bandengqiao is sited on the outskirts of Anchang Township and Huangtu Township, not far from Mianyang City. According to the experts, the new site will facilitate the industrial and economic recovery of Beichuan by providing many of the basic requirements such as logistics and general layout.

Li Xiaojiang, president of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said that as a first priority Bandengqiao is safe, and from a geological perspective the likelihood of an earthquake or other future disaster is relatively low.

Zhu Bo, director of the Regional Research Section of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, explained that including temporary residents, Beichuan currently has a total population of over 30,000, requiring somewhat more than 3 square km of land. Taking into consideration an expected population growth from 30,000 to 50,000, 3-5 square km will be satisfactory.

Many years ago the Qiang Ethnic Group inhabited the Bandengqiao area. Rebuilding Beichuan in a site surrounded by mountains and water will support the cultural heritage of the Qiang Ethnic Group.

The main location of Qiang Ethnics is on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau bordered by the upper reaches of the Minjiang River. With a steep and rugged terrain criss-crossed by myriad precipices and gullies, arable land is scarce and life here is tougher than on the plains. The Qiang Ethnics use local materials such as shale, mica, and feldspar to build blockhouses, many of which are still standing in a clear illustration of the local people's understanding of and relationship with their environment.

President Li Xiaojiang said that as an ethnic group living in a mountainous region, the Qiang relate to both mountains and water. There is a deep bond between the Qiang People and the landscape, and careful planning of the site is necessary to optimize their ecological environment. Water is a key element of the relationship between the locals and their natural surroundings.

The Qiang Ethnic Group also represents an ancient life-style that has almost vanished. "The Qiang are one of the oldest ethnic groups in China. All of the other ancient groups have now either merged or disappeared, leaving only the Qiang. The Qiang are a living fossil of the Chinese people," said Chen Tongbin, director of the Architectural History Study Section of the China Institute of Architectural Design and Research.

(China.org.cn June 11, 2008)

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