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Spring Festival watch: New Beichuan’s tourism rises from ruins

Updated: 2017-02-03
By Jiang Wanjuan (chinadaily.com.cn)

Newly-restored Beichuan county served as a hot tourism attraction for visitors to participate in the new life of earthquake survivors and the region’s unique Qiang ethnic culture during the Spring Festival holiday.

Beichuan county caught the world's attention as the most devastated area after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan.

As China's only Qiang autonomous county, Beichuan lost more than 30,000 Qiang people in the catastrophe, accounting for 10 percent of the Qiang population.

After the quake, a brand new county was constructed 23 kilometers from the ruins, and all the remaining residents of the old county moved in by 2011. Located near the AnchangRiver, the county is officially called "Yongchang", but people prefer to call it "the new Beichuan".

For safety purposes, the new location is far from the earthquake belt and any major mountain. The old area has been preserved as a permanent museum for the public to mourn the dead.

A residential zone, schools, hotels, a Qiang custom museum and the signature commercial pedestrian street comprise the new community, where traditional Qiang architectural features and customs are preserved and celebrated.

Banaqia, the landmark project of the new county, is a busy shopping street consisting of cafes, restaurants and shops with local specialties and Qiang ethnic crafts run by locals. "Banaqia" means market in the Qiang language.

During the Spring Festival, visitors could have joined the locals for a Qiang-style camp fire outdoor dinner and take home some of the Beichuan's famous smoked food, including pork, sausage and wild animal meat.

There were also big-scale performances staged in the public area during the holiday, including a dragon dance and Qiang ethnic songs and performances.

The new Beichuan county is about 40 minutes' drive from Mianyang city and two hours' drive from Chengdu city. It has become a popular getaway for families from the two cities and surrounding counties and villages.

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