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Ecological Nirvana of Qingchuan
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Qingchuan's importance as a vital passage can be seen from a series of historical events.

In April 1935, the Red Army and Hu Zongnan's unit fought a fierce battle here. In the end, Hu's unit was defeated and the Red Army joined forces triumphantly in Maogong, Xiaojin County's old name in the Republic of China period.

In 1949, the Chinese People's Liberation Army marched to Qingchuan via the ancient road of Yinping and pressed on forward to the Great Southwest of China after freeing Qingchuan from the oppression of Kuomintang (KMT).

Xiang, speaking in a strong Sichuan dialect, recited long passages of ancient Chinese script to introduce Qingchuan.

Because of its strategic importance in past centuries, Qingchuan people had access to abundant produce from all three provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu, items such as Chinese prickly ash from Wen County of Gansu, raw lacquer from Ningqiang of Shaanxi and mu'er (a kind of edible black fungus grown in China) from Qingchuan.

Dong Jun carried on the same business as his grandfather, who was able to support three wives and feed a large family through his trading in mountain delicacies.

"The business was later banned by the government. My father used to secretly barter wild plants such as mu'er and mushrooms in exchange for salt and other staples," said Dong. "It helped my family a lot."

The earthquake

At 2:28 PM on May 12, the building next to the Mountain Delicacy Market collapsed, damaging the biggest trade market in Qingchuan and putting an end to Dong's business.

This market used to be a focal point for every Qingchuaner. They sold mountain delicacies and used the money to provide for their needs. After the earthquake, some would never be able to return, while others were too sad to approach the place.

Dong is one of the latter.

"The ground shook for a while, but I thought it was the noise of work going on in the building," Dong recalled. Soon he realized something was not right. He heard a neighbor shouting "It's an earthquake! Everybody run!" Dong ran as fast as he could. The whole building collapsed behind him just after he ran out.

Dong turned around and was shocked by what he saw.

"The building had fallen apart and I could hear crying and shouting everywhere," Dong said. "The whole scene was beyond words."

Many others were not as fortunate as Dong.

Xiang was having a meeting in the County government building about 200 meters south of Dong's site. Some of the people who ran out with him were crushed, and blood was everywhere.

One hundred meters further southeast, Xiang's daughter, who worked in a China Telecom branch, survived the devastation. But two of her colleagues were buried under the ruins forever.

Statistics show that as of June 5, 98 percent of the houses in Qingchuan had suffered various degrees of damage, more than 4,000 people were dead, and economic loss was assessed at more than 50 billion yuan. The whole tourist industry has been destroyed and the mountain delicacy trade has ground to a halt.

The mushroom business

Dong Jun regrets that he entered the mushroom business too late, and missed the best time to make money.

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