In Shifang, the city closest to the epicenter, more than 80 percent of the houses were damaged or collapsed during the May 12 earthquake. Reconstruction is a priority for Mayor Li Chengjin. Li said that Shifang businesses were severely affected by the quake. He expected more supportive policies from the government after these companies resumed business.
"Money is only a short-term support and Shifang's future development would largely rely on autonomous economic recovery," Li told The Beijing News during an interview. He also hoped that the central government would provide more "reproductive" support to this city.
As mayor, he believed that there would have been significantly less casualties if communications and traffic had remained functional when the earthquake hit the city. For this reason better design and construction standards will be applied in the reconstruction process, according to him.
No mass-demolishment or mass-construction in the reconstruction process
The Beijing News: The Beijing municipal government is responsible for assisting Shifang in the reconstruction. What kind of help does your city need right now?
Li Chengjin: Actually we really didn't want to trouble Beijing City, because it's already busy with the Olympic Games.
However, Shifang has suffered such big losses in this quake that we really need the help of the state and other sister provinces and cities.
Specifically, first of all, we need some urban planning experts. Secondly, I hope that Beijing's competitive industries could act as counterparts to some of our companies. Thirdly, we'd love some help with the reconstruction of public facilities.
The Beijing News: A lot of people are now considering the post-quake reconstruction as a great opportunity for urban development.
Li: We do need a certain amount of financial input from the state, but we're expecting more beneficial policies. Shifang's enterprises were severely stricken by the quake and we hope that the government will offer us more supportive policies such as tax deductions and exemptions and more soft loans after these enterprises start up again.
Asking only for money but nothing else is short sighted; we need more "reproductive" support.