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On quake anniversary

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-13 07:31

Sunday was the fifth anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake.

It is heartbreaking to remember the disaster that claimed more than 80,000 lives and traumatized the hundreds of thousands who survived.

But at the same time it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the new towns that have sprung up in places that were flattened by the earthquake and the better quality of life the survivors now enjoy.

Reconstruction in Wenchuan and other places that were struck by the quake resulted in all parts of the country extending a helping hand. And all Chinese have a reason to be proud of what the concerted efforts of the entire nation achieved in creating a new life for the survivors.

Yet as a Chinese saying goes: The past remembered can be a guide for the future.

By remembering those who lost their lives in the earthquake, we - the survivors in particular - will learn to appreciate and treasure what we have today. By remembering the moments when so many perished in a flash of nature's anger, we can find our proper position in our relationships with society and the world at large.

By drawing on the lessons of the disaster, and by making clear how some buildings could have been made more solid to withstand the tremor and how more lives could have been saved, we should be able to be better prepared for future disasters. We should make sure the structures under construction adhere to the standards for earthquake resistance and put in place a comprehensive mechanism to guarantee a timely response in the event of any future disasters.

In this sense, the fifth anniversary of one of the most fatal natural disasters in the history of China is of importance, not just for the survivors, but also for the entire nation. The soul searching needs to go far beyond the disaster itself.

To our great relief, the swifter, more orderly and technology-driven rescue efforts in the quake in neighboring Lushan late last month has demonstrated what this country has achieved in advancing its capability to deal with such natural disasters.

But it is human nature to forget. It is never too much to emphasize suffering in the past so it can be a source of inspiration on which we can build our strength for the creation of a better future.

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