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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: June 30, 2008 NO. 27 JUL. 3, 2008
Counting the Cost
The cost of the earthquake on Sichuan Province's industries reveals setbacks that will take years to recover

Another pillar corporation in Sichuan, Changhong Electronics Group, had a loss of 149 million yuan ($21.3 million), nearly half of the group's net profit last year that stood at 337 million yuan ($48 million).

According to statistics from the provincial government, a total of 22,428 enterprises suffered damage of varying degrees and economic losses of 200 billion yuan ($28.57 billion). Deyang, Chengdu, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Mianyang, Guangyuan and Mianzhu had a loss of 180 billion yuan ($25.7 billion), accounting for 95 percent of the total losses in the province. The six cities yielded a total of 510 billion yuan ($73 billion) in gross domestic product, or more than half of the province's economic aggregate last year.

The major industries of Sichuan are electric power, natural gas, petroleum, chemicals, food and pharmacy. Power stations and chemical plants were severely destroyed in the quake.

Chen Yao, a researcher with the Institute of Industrial Economy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predicted Sichuan would need 15.5 megawatts this year and the earthquake would result in a supply gap of 4 megawatts.

Hydropower plants throughout the province used to supply 62 percent of its electricity needs. Coal-fueled power plants will operate at full capacity to meet escalating demands until the majority of hypropower generation capacity is restored. At present, coal-fueled power plants in Sichuan operate with a daily supply of coal equaling only 70 percent of the pre-quake quantity. They are in urgent demand of more coal.

Tourists withdrawal

Most of Sichuan's tourist spots had resumed business by June 21 when the Emei Mountian was opened again to tourists.

The quake resulted in a loss of 62.4 billion yuan ($8.9 billion) in the tourism industry in Sichuan, or half of the industry's revenue last year, said Sichuan Provincial Tourism Bureau Director Zhang Gu.

Sichuan has a number of names on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List and many state-level scenic resorts. The earthquake destroyed 568 of the province's 4,000 tourist attractions, and 300,000 workers in the sector were unemployed by the catastrophe.

Transportation is a major obstacle to the recovery of tourism in Sichuan, said Sheng Yi, a researcher at the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences. Many roads leading to tourist resorts in mountains are yet to be restored. Additionally, the earthquake has triggered landslides and debris flows in the rainy season, and safety concerns will prevent tourists from visiting Sichuan, said Sheng.

While making tourists worry about their personal safety, the earthquake also has devastated local accommodation facilities. Local tourism industry would take two or three years to recover, said Yang Yang, General Manager of Shanghai Spring International Travel Service Co. Ltd.

Woods' woes

Following the sleet, snow and freezing rain at the beginning of this year, the massive earthquake in May cast another heavy blow on the forestry resources in Sichuan. The industry suffered direct economic losses of 20.94 billion yuan ($3 billion) and indirect losses of 183.1 billion yuan ($26 billion).

Sichuan has rich forestry resources. The Longmen Mountain, which is located in the main earthquake-hit area, is a major giant panda habitat with the richest forestry resources in Sichuan, accounting for 10 percent of the province's total forestry reserves. Due to large-scale landslides, collapses, breakages and burying of woods that occurred during the earthquake, the province's forestry coverage rate may decrease by 2.05 percentage points. This will pose a great threat to the province's achievements over the past years in natural forestry protection and in the project of "returning forests to farmlands," according to statistics from Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Forestry (SPBF). The damages in major giant panda habitats are especially severe.

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