Just how powerful can an 8.0 magnitude earthquake be?
Scientists have described the earthquake as being as devastating as hundreds of nuclear explosions, but people in China who witnessed and suffered the aftermath of the Wenchuan earthquake believe that the natural disaster has had a much more profound social impact than the physical damage it has caused. As buildings fell and lives were taken, the Middle Kingdom has changed in almost every way imaginable. Such is seen in the headlines of the Chinese media:
“A new China emerges from the earthquake”
“Wenchuan quake recasts the West’s view of China”
“Wenchuan earthquake awakens civil society”
“Earthquake helps China rebuild its image”
“Earthquake releases tremendous civil force”
“Chinese media’s earthquake”
“Earthquake not an excuse for jerry-built projects”
But can the power of the earthquake really bring change to China?
It is a question yet to be answered. If the earthquake has truly had a massive social impact, how long can it last? Can the shock of the earthquake continue to boost China’s national morale during and after the post-disaster recovery? And will the unity among Chinese people throughout the disaster eventually become a driving force that will lead to a stronger political institution?
Read also Civil society in China: are NGOs and volunteer activities in the aftermath of the quake a glimpse into a new China? by Jens Kolhammar.