After the earthquake that struck southwest China about a week ago, aftershocks of various kinds have been felt throughout the country. Perhaps the most interesting one to me is that rumors have been circulating that another quake would strike Beijing imminently.
The rumors have spread in many ways. Text messages and posts to online forums, citing “official agency forecasts” from the Beijing Earthquake Bureau, have been the main sources of information. According to one article, people hearing the news have also been calling family members in Beijing. Anecdotal evidence of pets trying to get outside and water acting weirdly have been informally reported as substantiating the claims.
As early as April 16, Chinese media outlets have been dispelling the rumor as false. They also have been highlighting the fact that rumors of this type are common after major earthquakes, and there was an identical incident after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Two men were arrested in that case. While the authorities never could promise that no earthquake would occur, they have said “the chance for a destructive earthquake is extremely remote.”
When Tian first passed on the rumor, which she received from a friend, I was a bit nervous. But after reading up on it online, I’ve relaxed. While one never knows what will happen, it appears the likelihood of a Beijing earthquake (at least anytime soon) is quite small. And on the bright side, I think I have some great new material for my critical thinking class.