The Tangshan Earthquake Memorial Wall
(xqlx.com) By 房煜. June 4, 2006.
(in translation) ... After the Tangshan earthquake most of the dead were not buried properly in graves. Each July 28, the people of Tangshan will use the traditional method of remembrance by burning paper money at the street corners. On this night, tens of thousands of flickering flames can be seen across the city.
On July 28, 2004, a new method for remembrance appaeaed. Within the Southern Lake Park which rose from the collapsed mining zone there was a 400 mu International General Science Memorial Park (website: http://www.76728.com/ ). Within, the park, there were three huge granite blocks that formed a memorial wall on which the names of several thousand earthquake victims were etched. During the Qingming festival and also on July 28th itself, almost ten thousand people will come to this "wailing wall" in memory of their loved ones.
... The park was built by the Huaying Group and they have informed the citizens through advertisements: "The memorial wall will have the names of the earthquake dead etched on it in eternal tribue. If you want to have a name etched, please proceed to the China Industrial and Commerce Bank branch at Shengli Road, or the Bank of China branch as Jianshe Road, or the Agricultural Bank's Business Department Lobby to remit the fee. With the bank receipt, you may sign a contract at the Southern Lake Park northern gate reception hall and then select your position on the wall. The fees are: each name in the front of the memorial wall costs 1,000 RMB; a name in the back of the memorial wall costs 800 RMB."
"But we don't always collect the fees according to the price list," said Huaying Group general manager Li Li. "Handicapped people or orphans receive discounts or half price. If someone can offer the exact names of entire families who died, we will do it for nothing." Furthermore, any dead members of the People's Liberation Army will have their names etched on the top row for free.
... In early 2004, Yanzhao Metropolis Daily posed some questions about the wall. According to one view, "this is using a disaster as a gimmick to make money. They are making money without any conscience, and this is hurting the feelings of the people of Tangshan. Another report said that while the Earthquake Memorial Park project was approved by thte government, the fee-charging scheme was a commercial activity that the government departments were not aware of. One newspaper published a senior citizen's letter: "The Qingming festival is almost here and my grief is even heavier. I call for the families of the victims not to go there and for all the citizens to condemn them." But the reality was that people continue to come to the wall in remember their friends and families. Still, the Huaying Group was under tremendous pressure.
At this point, there is really not many options for the wall. There are more than 10,000 names already on the wall, so there is no way to knock down the wall because the outcry from the families of those people would be tremendous.