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Quake hardly jolts China's economy


08:30, April 24, 2013

BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- A strong quake has again brought huge losses to southeast China's Sichuan Province, but the disaster is unlikely to undermine the economy in any great deal due to its scale, analysts said.

The 7.0-magnitude quake that struck Sichuan's Ya'an City on Saturday morning has so far killed at least 193 people and injured more than 12,200 others, latest data from the provincial government showed.

"From what we have learnt from the region's 2008 quake, economic impacts will be limited. Losses in local areas should not be blown up to a disaster for the whole economy," said Wang Xiaoguang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

By Sunday afternoon, the quake had affected around 2 million local residents, destroyed more than 26,400 houses, and damaged a number of roads and reservoirs, according to local authorities.

The capital market reacted with slight retreats on Monday.

But investors grew more worried after HSBC's release of weak factory production data in China. The Key Shanghai index slumped 2.57 percent on Tuesday.

More days will be needed to calculate detailed losses, but the figure will be significantly lower than the mightier quake that jolted Sichuan's Wenchuan City, which left about 87,000 people dead or missing, according to market estimates.

A Barclays report on Monday projected direct economic losses at about 10 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars), much lower than the 845 billion yuan resulted from the Wenchuan quake. The bank has maintained its China growth forecasts.

Losses mainly occurred in Ya'an, a city with an economic weight of 1.67 percent in Sichuan and 0.07 percent of the national economy. The ecological sector, tourism and agricultural production are its major sources of incomes.

The economic impact the quake may bring will be like a change from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent in the country's growth, said Fanwei, an analyst at the Beijing-based Hongyuan Securities.

Inflation is another market concern. The Barclays report said the quake will cause local food shortages, especially vegetables, but the pressure on food prices will be short.

The quake has has not impacted major producing areas for swine and grain in Sichuan. Supplies may be temporarily tight, but this can hardly reverse a recent downward trend for prices of pork, a staple meat in China, Fan said.

Easing food prices have sent China's inflation rate to 2.1 percent in March, down from February's 3.2 percent.

Infrastructure facilities were badly damaged in some local communities, but had been restored in a much quicker fashion. By Monday, major towns had seen power supplies and communication systems resumed.

"The employment of professional rescue staff and orderly government management have minimized losses and made rescue work more efficient," Wang said.

The reconstruction of quake-hit areas will help boost local economies as consumption demand rises, and more importantly, offer a trial zone for the country's urbanization drive, a channel to tap domestic demand, analysts noted.

Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications, said the government shall seize the opportunity to build new counties that feature low-carbon, environmentally-friendly and green concepts, a target outlined in the country's development plan.

During a March inspection to Jiangsu Province, Premier Li Keqiang elaborated on the significance of new counties, saying they are an important link between the city and the countryside.

Touching moments:

Daily life of quake victims in Sichuan

High school students prepare for exam in tent

Rescuers struggling to reach every household

Soldiers bring hope to earthquake-hit region

First night after deadly earthquake

Rescuers work hard at quake-hit area in Sichuan

>>>Quake-hit China grows in pain

The principle of sparing no efforts to save lives cannot be more stressed. No minute or even second should be delayed during the "golden rescue period" in the first 72 hours after the quake.

>>>Pilot cancels wedding to participate in quake relief

When the 7.0-magnitude quake happened, Zhang Shangnian, a pilot from an aviation brigade of Chengdu Military Region, was about to hold his wedding.

>>>Nurse returns to work after losing mother

Just likes other medical staff, she was busy with rescuing people injured in the earthquake in SW China, but no one knew her mother just died in the quake.

>>>Wedding ceremony without bridegroom held on schedule

Zhuo Jia, the bridegroom, is a solider of the Chengdu Military Region; he had to leave his beautiful bride behind to participate in earthquake relief.

>>>An injured girl's smile moves many

"Your smile makes the entire world beautiful,” a photo of a smiling girl with bandage on her head has moved so many Chinese netizens.

>>>Teenager saves mom with his bare hands

The mother moves away a precast slab weighing over 50 kilograms alone to save her son in the earthquake. She said she did not know where her strength came from.

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