2008年7月2日 星期三

China's Rebuilding Effort Takes On Breakneck Pace


China's Rebuilding Effort Takes On Breakneck Pace

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Time is running short. It has been nearly two months since a massive earthquake in China's Sichuan province leveled towns and left millions homeless.

Government officials have decided that by August they have to come up with a plan for rebuilding a disaster zone covering about 50,000 square miles, an area larger than Indiana. Dozens of towns and cities need to be rebuilt, some nearly from scratch. One of the biggest projects will be Dujiangyan, a scenic and historic city that was heavily damaged.

The rapid rebuilding program plays to the strengths of China's centralized, authoritarian government: its ability to mobilize physical and financial resources across a large nation, and to rouse popular enthusiasm with broad social campaigns.

City governments across China have 'adopted' areas of Sichuan, sending in their own people to jump-start reconstruction. The central government, flush with cash from a booming economy, set aside $10 billion for rebuilding in this year alone, with more to come. There has been little of the dickering over budgets and lines of responsibility that delayed the U.S. effort to rebuild New Orleans after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Yet the breakneck pace set by the government -- three months to plan, three years to rebuild -- is no small challenge. Dujiangyan, as home to a unique 2,000-year-old irrigation project designated a Unesco World Heritage Site, is under particular pressure to do reconstruction right.

The people charged with rebuilding the city themselves need places to stay. With government offices rendered unsafe by the earthquake, planners set up temporary shop in a damaged building with cracks running up and down the walls and gaps in corners because one wall leans outward. Qu Jun, director of the Dujiangyan City Planning Bureau, keeps a cot in his office. Meals of instant noodles and fruit are taken on folding tables in the parking lot.

Mr. Qu unrolls a map of the city and lays out the problem. 'If we don't do it right now we've lost our chance,' he says. 'Over 100,000 people are basically homeless in Dujiangyan . . . . It's inhumane if they stay [in temporary housing] for a long time. Half a year is already too much.'

Few refugees will be lucky enough to spend only half a year in the barracks-like temporary housing now going up around Sichuan. About 7.8 million houses were destroyed by the earthquake, and three times that number were damaged. Even if the planning effort can be finished in August, officials say they won't be able to start building in earnest until winter.

Finding the space is the trick. The old city center is basically unusable: Mr. Qu estimates it will take two years just to clear out the rubble. The temporary housing also will occupy big swaths of land, further reducing the area available for permanent housing. So he thinks Dujiangyan will have to be rebuilt around a new city center, probably one of the small villages on the outskirts of the current town.

To supplement its own resources, the city government has asked architects and planners from France, Malaysia and Japan to contribute to the rebuilding plan. 'Everyone realizes there will be a huge amount of real-estate activity going on in Dujiangyan,' says Harry Lu, head of the Shanghai office of WWCOT, a Los Angeles-based architecture and design firm that is also participating.

But the urgent pace of disaster recovery means throwing standard working procedures out the window. 'Usually, in order to do a master plan like this, we need to live on the site for at least three or four months, in order to understand what kind of weather they have, what kind of population, what kind of industry, what kind of flowers grow there,' says Mr. Lu. Instead, he has a month to do everything. 'The challenges are really huge. The more I think about this project, the more problems occur to me.'

Big decisions will have to be rushed: Does Dujiangyan now need an airport? What kind of buildings could best survive another quake? The planners know they can't aim for perfection.

'We can't guarantee there will be no mistakes in the plan, but we just want to make sure there are no big mistakes,' says Mr. Qu, the head of the city planning bureau. 'Maybe after this urgent drive for reconstruction we can focus on improving the old town. Then we may have more time to focus on that. Now what we want to do is settle the people as soon as possible, and help tourism and the supporting industries recover.'

The old city center was, however, one of the centers of Dujiangyan's busy tourism industry. The city has received more than five million tourists annually in recent years. The city's main park is still closed to the public, and it is easy to see why.

Liu Xianjie, head of the Sichuan Institute of Urban Planning and Design, stops at the base of a pile of rubble. 'Before the earthquake, thousands of people came here every day,' he says, gesturing upwards to an antique temple half-buried in stone and earth. 'I'm afraid it will be very difficult for tourism to recover quickly.' To properly restore the Erwang temple -- dedicated to the builders of the ancient waterworks -- likely will take months of painstaking effort to ensure new work fits with original materials and design.

Nonetheless, tourism seems to be central to how the quake-stricken areas will revitalize themselves. Even away from major destinations like Dujiangyan, many mountain villages in the area have long had some small-scale tourism, offering local sights and rustic hotels. Those sources of income look to become much more important as sharpened safety and environmental concerns restrict industry in the quake-stricken counties.

A county official says two-thirds of the factories in Beichuan -- producing things like cement and lumber -- are so damaged that they won't be able to restart operations in their original locations.There aren't many obvious options to replace the jobs and incomes lost from industry. Tourism sounds good, but in the absence of established draws local officials are getting creative. The earthquake itself has provided some ideas.

Mr. Song says he is looking into preserving the Tangjiashan 'quake lake' as a tourist attraction. The body of water, formed when landslides blocked a river's flow, was the subject of national and international news coverage for weeks as soldiers worked to prevent it from collapsing and flooding the homes of millions of people downhill.

'Now the whole world knows Tangjiashan. It's a brand, and that's something very valuable,' says Mr. Song, sitting outside at a tent at a resettlement camp in his county. A museum commemorating the earthquake is slated to be built in the old county seat of Beichuan, most of which was leveled by the earthquake.

For the locals, emotions are still raw, and such plans seem distant. 'It's a place of tragedy and sad memories. My family and my house are all gone,' says Yan Chun, a 29-year-old mother from Beichuan who lost her husband and her six-year-old son in the earthquake. 'The only comfort for me now is my daughter,' she says, shielding the 4-month-old's head from the Sichuan summer sun.

Andrew Batson


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Andrew Batson / WSJ

中 國的市級政府已經確立了對口支援地區﹐並派出本市人員幫助災區重建。因經濟蓬勃發展而握有大量資金的中央政府僅今年就為重建工作撥出了100億美元﹐以後 還將進一步追加投入。這裡面沒有經費預算和責任劃分上的討價還價﹐而正是這些問題在卡特里娜(Hurricane Katrina)颶風襲擊後的新奧爾良拖了重建工作後腿。

然而﹐政府設定的重建速度未免快得令人咋舌──三個月規劃、三年重建﹐這其中蘊 含的挑戰不容小視。都江堰是一項已載入聯合國教科文組織世界遺產(Unesco World Heritage Site)名錄的古老水利工程﹐擁有2,000年歷史﹐因此它所在的都江堰市在如何正確重建的問題上背負了尤為沉重的壓力。




找地方是個大難題。古城的中心地帶已經基本不可用了。屈軍估算僅清理廢墟就要花費兩年時間。臨建房也侵佔了大片資源﹐使得能用來建 設永久住宅的土地面積進一步縮水。因此屈軍認為都江堰市的重建工作必須圍繞著一個新的城中心展開﹐而這個新中心可能從該市現有的郊區小村庄中選擇一個。

為 了彌補自己的人才缺口﹐都江堰市政府已經向法國、馬來西亞和日本的建築師以及規劃人員發出了邀請﹐請他們為重建工作獻計獻策。美國威爾考特建築事務所 (WWCOT)中國區總裁盧成志(Harry Lu)表示﹐每個人都意識到在都江堰市將會有大規模的土木工程。這家總部設在美國洛杉磯的建築及設計公司也參與了此項工作。

不過﹐飛速開 展災後重建就意味著要打破常規辦事。盧成志表示﹐一般來講﹐為了出具總體規劃方案﹐我們需要在當地生活至少三到四個月﹐瞭解當地氣候、人群類型、產業狀況 以及適宜植被等問題。而今他只有1個月的時間來完成這一切。他說﹐這真是一個很大的挑戰﹐我對這個規劃思考得越深入﹐頭腦中冒出的問題就越多。




駐 足於廢墟前的四川省城鄉規劃設計研究院(Sichuan Institute of Urban Planning and Design)黨委書記劉先傑指出﹐地震發生前﹐每天都有幾千人來這座公園游玩。他指著一座已半埋於泥石之下的仿古亭表示﹐旅游業恐怕很難迅速恢復。而為 了正確復原為紀念都江堰的開鑿者李冰父子而建的二王廟﹐人們可能要付出幾個月的艱苦努力才能保證新工程能符合原有的材料以及設計要求。

然 而﹐旅遊業似乎是災區進行自我修復的核心手段。即便在遠離都江堰等旅遊熱點的地方﹐許多山村都曾擁有規模不大的旅遊產業﹐村民為遊客提供農家旅店﹐並帶領 他們觀賞山間美景。由於現在人們對震區的安全及環境問題深感擔憂﹐本地工業的發展受到了制約﹔在此情況下﹐旅遊資源顯得越發重要。

一位縣 級官員表示﹐北川三分之二的工廠受損嚴重﹐無法在原址恢復生產。對於那些從事水泥生產和伐木業的廠家來說﹐並沒有太多易於尋得的就業和收入補救措施。這個 時候開展旅游業就成了一個聽上去不錯的選擇﹐而著名景點的匱乏讓當地官員們急中生智──這場地震本身就能創造一些商機。



然 而對當地人來說﹐他們感情上的創傷仍遠未平復﹐這樣的計劃似乎遙遠得和他們沒什麼關係。現年29歲、來自北川的嚴春在地震中失去了丈夫和六歲的兒子。她說 ﹐這裡是一個充滿了悲劇和傷心回憶的地方﹐我的家和房子都沒有了﹔現在唯一讓我感到欣慰的是我女兒。她一邊說著﹐一邊用手為這個只有四個月大的寶貝擋住了 照射在她頭上的灼熱陽光。

Andrew Batson