Sunday, June 1, 2008

Year Of Curse : 1976 China

28 July 1976, Tangshan Earthquake

The earthquake hit Tangshan at 3.42 in the morning of 28 July 1976, when almost everyone was asleep. It lasted only 10 seconds at 7.8 magnitude, but is believed to be the largest earthquake of the 20th century by death toll of around 250,000.

Thirty-two years ago, not many knew about that disaster, or cared to bother. This was mainly due to limited access of "breaking news". The Chinese Government at that time refused to accept international aids from the UN. The year 1976 is labelled "Year Of Curse" in China. Two important political events happened in that year. Death of Premier Zhou Enlai on 8 Jan 1976, and followed by Chairman Mao Zedong on 9 Sep 1976. This, followed by the struggle for power by the Gang Of Four with Mao's wife Jiang Qing, Deng Xiaoping and Mao's chosen successor Hua Guofeng. The rest is history, as they said.

Fast forward 32 years, to-day.

Sichuan earthquake 12 May 2008

Similar disasters; but what a contrasting response! The whole world knew about it within seconds. The whole world came to its aid. The Chinese Government welcomed international aids, rescue and medical personnel. The Chinese Government acted swiftly and decisively. The whole nation stood as one. Premier (Grandpa) Wen Jiabao was first on the scene. This is the character and resilience of the Chinese people. Quite fittingly, Grandpa Wen is a geologist too!

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