A powerful earthquake devastated Sichuan Province in 2008 and recovery is still ongoing, but this prosperous and fertile region of southwest China has also suffered a series of man-made disasters.

During the Great Leap Forward (1958-61), when as many as 45 million Chinese died from Mao Zedong's colossal policy blunder, Sichuan was one of the regions hit hardest by the famine. The region also suffered more than its share during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) because many local people had wartime links with the Nationalists (Kuomintang), who had retreated to Chongqing from Nanjing in 1937.

The privately operated Jianchuan Museum Cluster of 13 buildings located about 90 minutes' drive outside Chengdu has an entire building devoted to that Sichuan earthquake, but it was closed during my visit. I was told that the families of the victims had criticized the exhibits. In addition, visitors who had seen the exhibits said there was a lot that would irritate officials and make them squirm.