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Shaken AuthorityChina's Communist Party and the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake$
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Christian P. Sorace

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501707537

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501707537.001.0001

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The Mirage of Development

The Mirage of Development

Yingxiu Township

(p.105) 5 The Mirage of Development
Shaken Authority

Christian P. Sorace

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the contradictions of what it calls the political aesthetics of development by focusing on the reconstruction of Yingxiu Township both as a showcase of state capacity and as a tourist destination following the Sichuan earthquake. Since the earthquake, Yingxiu has been rebuilt as a political symbol of Chinese Communist Party glory and benevolence. As Yingxiu was the epicenter of the earthquake, its reconstruction was designed in anticipation of higher-level officials on inspection visits, global audiences, and awestruck tourists. Relying on tourism as a form of economic salvation was common throughout the earthquake zone, even in areas where the tourist attraction remains far from evident. Local residents accused the state of wasting resources on “face projects” that did not benefit their lives. The chapter considers some of the reasons why Yingxiu failed to generate a thriving tourist economy.

Keywords:   development, reconstruction, Yingxiu Township, Sichuan earthquake, Chinese Communist Party, glory, benevolence, tourism, face projects, tourist economy

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