A city re­born like a phoenix from the ashes

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - — CHINA DAILY

Stand­ing in the cen­ter of Tang­shan, He­bei prov­ince, one can see rows of build­ings stretch­ing for miles — just like many other mod­ern ci­ties in China.

There is no trace of the deadly earth­quake that wiped out the city in 1976. Pho­tos from the time show that nearly all the build­ings col­lapsed. Nearly 95 per­cent of res­i­den­tial build­ings and 90 per­cent of public build­ings were de­stroyed.

In the four decades since the quake, the city has been com­pletely re­con­structed. Last year, Tang­shan’s GDP was 610 bil­lion yuan ($94 bil­lion) — rank­ing it No 1 in He­bei and 25th in China — a far cry from the 2.16 bil­lion yuan recorded in 1975.

As an in­dus­trial hub, Tang­shan leads the coun­try in heavy in­dus­tries, such as steel, coal, chem­i­cals and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing, and its port is connected to 160 ports in more than 70 coun­tries. The an­nual cargo ca­pac­ity is 490 mil­lion met­ric tons, mak­ing it the sixth-largest port in China.

The city has set a goal for the port’s in­volve­ment in the pro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, look­ing to be­come a hub con­nect­ing coun­tries across North­east Asia.

Last year, Tang­shan’s ur­ban area cov­ered 3.08 square km, and the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion was 2.5 mil­lion. Per cap­i­tal dis­pos­able in­come rose to 31,272 yuan from 261 yuan in 1975, and the num­ber of stu­dents at the city’s higher-ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ments was 111,421, a sharp rise from 4,559 in 1985.

After 1976, the city adopted an al­ter­na­tive name, Phoenix city, after the leg­endary bird that was re­born in the flames, just as the new Tang­shan was born from the dis­as­ter of the earth­quake.

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