US China Symposium

U.S. Seismic Researchers and Practitioners Visit China through the Auspices of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Download the U.S. China Symposium Report (40MB PDF)

Investigating the potential for seismic scientific and engineering research collaboration with China, a group of 19 U.S. researchers and practitioners visited Beijing and Sichuan Province from October 18 to October 22. The trip, organized by Dennis Hwang of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and EERI members Gary Chock and Ivan Wong, was initiated at the request of Dr. Lu Yongxiang, the president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to Dennis Hwang, then president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. Building on China’s long-standing relationship with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii since 1911, further strengthened by Hawaii’s humanitarian aid after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, Dr. Lu Yongxiang asked for a joint scientific exchange between U.S. and Chinese earthquake scientists and engineers. Both organizations realized the value in building stronger relationships between the U.S. and Chinese earthquake communities.

The centerpiece of the trip was a three-day China/USA Symposium for the Advancement of Earthquake Sciences and Hazard Mitigation Practices. The first day of the symposium was held in Beijing, with a series of presentations from Chinese and U.S. participants. The next two days were spent in Sichuan Province—in Mianyang City and Beichuan County—understanding the effects of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake of May 12, 2008. A very powerful element of the field visit was a trip to the devastated town of Beichuan (20,000 residents) that has been left as a memorial to the earthquake, and a trip to the new Beichuan County town, an innovatively master-planned new town for 35,000 residents that has been built in just two years.

The U.S. team also participated in two full days of meetings on Monday, October 18th, and Friday, October 22nd, with other organizations involved in earthquake research, including the China Earthquake Administration, the China Academy of Building Research, the Ministry of Civil Affairs Natural Disaster Reduction Centre, Beijing Normal University–Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Tsinghua University–Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Project, the National Earthquake Response Support Service, the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth of the China Academy of Sciences, the China Development Research Foundation and several other institutions. The purpose of these meetings was to share information on earthquake research and practice, and to identify possibilities for future collaboration.

For the symposium, site visits and informal meetings, both China and the USA learned significantly on such issues as siting, building design, building codes, hazard risk reduction, emergency preparation, and long-term recovery after major hazard events. Important relationships were established that will help in future efforts for cooperation. EERI and its partners will be exploring collaboration possibilities with many of these organizations. Summaries of these meetings will be posted on this website. It is anticipated that the symposium will become a continuing biennial event at venues alternating between China and the USA.

Special Projects Manager Marjorie Greene and 2011 President Tom Tobin represented EERI in the joint discussions. Other US participants included EERI members Daniel Abrams, Doug Bausch, Richard Eisner, Eduardo Miranda, Mark Petersen, J. P. Singh, Kenneth Stokoe II, and Yumei Wang, as well as Mathew Francis, Nico Luco, Chaoying Luo, Ian Robertson, Christine Theodoropoulos, and Guangren Yu.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the China Science Center of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, the Architectural Society of China, the China Academy of Building Research and the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design. The China Association for International Friendly Contact also contributed support. Many of the U.S. participants paid their own travel expenses, with additional funding support provided by Coastal Zone Foundation, Beatrice M. H. Young Foundation and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa College of Engineering.

The USA and China participants that gave presentations at the Symposium in Beijing at the Conference Center of the National People’s Congress. Left-right: Douglas Bausch – FEMA, Dr. Mark Petersen – USGS, Dr. Guangren Yu – Martin & Chock, Dr. Ken Stokoe – University of Texas, Chaoying Luo – Office of John Martin, Marjorie Greene – EERI, Mathew Francis – URS Corporation, Dr. J.P. Singh – JP Singh & Associates, Dr. Nicolas Luco – USGS, Dr. Ian Robertson – University of Hawaii, Austin Turner – US Embassy, Dr. Christine Theodoropolous – University of Oregon, Dr. Dan Abrams – University of Illinois, Yumei Wang – Oregon Department of Geology & Minerals, Tom Tobin – EERI, Dr. Eduardo Miranda – Stanford University, Gary Chock – Martin & Chock, Richard Eisner – Kiyoto University, Ivan Wong – URS Corporation, Dennis Hwang – Chinese Chamber & Univ. Hawaii Sea Grant – NOAA, Dr. JIANG Zhenghua – China Science Center – International Eurasian Academy of Sciences – “CSCIEAS,” WANG Guangtao – National Peoples Congress & CSCIEAS, Dr. PENG Gongbing – CSCIEAS, Dr. ZOU Chang – Architectural Society of China, President LI Xiaojiang – China Academy of Urban Planning & Design, Dr. ZOU Xiyuan – China Academy of Building Research, Dr. GAO Mengtan – China Earthquake Administration, President Wang Jun – China Academy of Building Research, ZHAO Lake – China Association for International Friendly Contact, Chief Planner QIU Jian – Bureau of Urban & Rural Construction of Sichuan Province, Deputy Secretary General RAO Jie – CSCIEAS, Deputy Secretary General SHAO Yishen – CSCIEAS, Deputy Secretary General HE Jianbang – CSCIEAS.

Viewing the widespread severe earthquake damage in old Beichuan, preserved in its 2008 state.

A collapsed masonry apartment building in the old town of Beichuan that had been under construction at the time of the earthquake. The entire town has been abandoned and turned into a memorial.

New apartment buildings recently constructed in the new Beichuan town that was relocated away from the main fault in an area without landslide risk. (buildings all completed but not yet occupied)