Rifts Remain in Quake-hit Sichuan

The Hindu visits Wenchuan, Sichuan, two years after the devastating earthquake hit:

In the town and its surrounding villages, dozens of residents said in recent interviews that many still have not received promised compensations. Farmers are fighting to hold on to their land, facing growing pressure from development projects and unable to sustain their livelihoods. As China celebrates Sichuan’s rebuilding this week, their stories find little mention.

“We have not seen a single cent of all the millions that everyone is talking about,” said Zhang Yi, a farmer in her fifties in the village of Yanmen just north of Wenchuan. “Everyone is talking about the rebuilding. Why isn’t anyone talking about the corruption?”

Five others stood by her side in the village square, all waiting to have their stories told in spite of standing instructions from local authorities to not speak to journalists.

…Allegations of corruption are widespread in quake-hit Sichuan. Many say the billions of Yuan promised in donations have not reached the villages. “Forget the projects. Here, without guanxi [connections], you can’t even find a job in a shop,” the farmer said. He and his wife now work as sweepers, earning 20 Yuan (Rs.140) a day. Their two sons, in their early 20s, sit idly at home unable to find work.

The litany of complaints Wenchuan’s residents has underscore the often wide gap between central policies and their implementation.


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