With aftershocks still occurring one year after the 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake, we bring you a roundup of quake-related news items.
Three-minute national mourning period at Tianfu Guangchang in downtown Chengdu on May 19, 2008, one week after the quake. Photo by Julien Rideller.
On Monday, the state released its official declaration on the quake and disasters in general titled "China's Actions for Disaster Prevention and Reduction."
Economy & Reconstruction
The Telegraph, in a lengthy and relatively thorough report on Sichuan one year after the quake, publishes that upwards of ten million people are still residing in temporary housing—ubiquitous rows of blue and white bungalows, tents, or worse. The Irish Times cites a more conservative number, between 3.5 and 4 million.
In a much more cheerful tone, Xinhua passes on the message from Chengdu's municipal government that 70 percent of the USD1.5 billion that was donated after the earthquake has gone toward "relief and reconstruction work".
In addition to housing construction, several new infrastructure projects have been announced, including an intensive, 50-day, 5,000-worker project to reinforce the Baoji-Chengdu railway, which has been instrumental in transporting supplies to quake-stricken areas as well as a four-lane, 52-kilometer expressway linking Wenchuan and Yinxiu Counties.
Sichuan's tourism industry suffered after the quake, but with initiatives by the provincial government such as the opening of the Donghekou Earthquake Relics Park, the issuing of 20 million Panda Cards and free admission to some of Sichuan's popular tourist spots on May 12, 2009, more travelers were visiting the province. However, the first confirmed case of swine flu on the mainland being discovered in Chengdu might once again alter people's travel plans.
One-Year Anniversary Commemoration
While Beichuan was decimated in the quake and, it has been announced, will be rebuilt in a new location, the ruins were recently opened for four days to former residents who wished to pay their respects to the deceased.
Jackie Chan is following in the footsteps—literally—of fellow Hollywood martial-arts film hero Jet Li, who made a symbolic 5.12-kilometer walk to Wenchuan last Sunday to honor victims of the quake. Chan visited survivors Monday, paying his respects by singing with students from Beichuan Middle School. In related news, Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang, who took home the gold medal at Athens, attended physical-education classes with primary school students in Beichuan.
The Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio has produced the first documentary on the quake. The 96-minute film, "People Go First" (人民至上), will air nationwide on May 12, 2009.
While the state has published 5,335 as the official count of students who died during the quake, it hasn't released names or any other details of the individuals. Countering this vagueness, Beijing-based artist/activist Ai Weiwei is spearheading a project to collect all the names and identifying information of the school children.
Shortly after the quake, the Jianchuan Museum Cluster opened a temporary earthquake museum on its grounds attracting tens of thousands of visitors over the Spring Festival Holidays. On May 12, 2009, it opens a permanent, privately funded RMB25 million museum featuring 8,000 relics recovered from the rubble as well as the legendary pig who was meant to be pork but was adopted by the museum's founder after it survived over a month while trapped under its collapsed pen. Entrance to the museum is free of charge.
Chengdu Quake Anniversary Events
In Chengdu, several events have been lined up to raise awareness and funds for ongoing relief efforts. Last Saturday's half marathon and 10K run attracted 40 runners and raised RMB8,000 to benefit Chengdu Sports Aid projects; later this month, a group of bikers will go the distance (310 kilometers to Wenchuan and back, to be precise) to honor the memory of quake victims.
The Chengdu Bookworm hosts a benefit evening with barbecue and bands on May 12 to mark the one-year anniversary of the quake. All profits from the evening will go toward relief projects. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.
Also available at the benefit evening will be "Afterquake," an album produced in conjunction with Sichuan Quake Relief by two musicians who spent time in Sichuan recording with young quake victims. See more about the project by Abigail Washburn and Dave Liang in this Sexy Beijing video.
"Grace – Restoration" (感恩•重建) features work of artists from around the country commemorating the one-year anniversary of the quake. The exhibit is on display at the Sichuan Art Museum (四川美术馆) on Renmin Xi Lu through May 24.
"Unforgettable," an exhibition organized by four local photographers depicts the disaster in large-scale prints. The images are on display in an outdoor (covered) venue and until June 21.
GoChengdoo is currently running a series of one-year anniversary posts to commemorate the quake, and English-language city magazine CHENGDOO citylife has made last May's "Aftermath" issue, a special tribute to the quake, available as a PDF for free download.
Quake-Related Panda News
And finally, some of Sichuan's giant pandas, whose home at the Wolong Nature Reserve was destroyed by the quake, will get a fancy, new RMB1.57 billion home next year. The national treasures, who have been temporarily residing at the Bifengxia base near Ya'an County, have reportedly suffered a decrease in their already notoriously low libido as a result of stress and trauma from the quake and relocation—a story that, of course, headline writers around the world are having a field day with.
"Touch of the Panda" (熊猫回家路) was released in theaters across China last week. The film is notable not only for its panda loving, but also because it is the only feature-length film shot at the Wolong Nature Reserve before it was destroyed. The Disney production took a reported three months to film, and six panda cubs took turns playing the lead role of Pang Pang.
All photos by Leo Chen except where noted.
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