On May 12, 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwest China's Sichuan Province, killing almost 70,000 people and severely damaging local economy. Of the major state-owned plants in the quake zone, Dongfang Steam Turbine Works endured the biggest losses. The earthquake killed more than 300 of its employees and 1,000 suffered injuries. Direct economic losses totaled 5 billion yuan ($764 million).
Dongfang Steam Turbine Works' new workshop.
In the aftermath, Dongfang found itself nearly crippled but nonetheless was determined to fulfill customer orders with whatever equipment was salvageable. The rebuilding of the plant attracted attention from state leaders and significant support from other state-owned enterprises. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao made several visits. Baosteel, a steel producer headquartered in Shanghai, provided all the steel materials used in the construction of the new facilities.
It was during this rebuilding period that company leadership realized that the devastation from the earthquake had provided an opportunity to shift the focus to products used for clean energy, such as wind and solar. It previously had produced traditional power generators, but now Dongfang would transform itself and make wind power the backbone of its business.