China: Seismologist Claims Sichuan Earthquake Was Predicted

Li Shihui, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), exposed in his blog that the Sichuan earthquake on May 12 was already predicted at an earlier time. In spite of the various rumors of earthquake omens which are flooded on the Internet, Li's specialty and systematic statement have helped him gain many people's confidence, even after his controversial articles are deleted by the network administrator.

The front page of Li's blog

Clicked on the relevant articles of Li's blog, the page appears to be”Sorry, the blog you visit doesn't exist.”

A copy of Li Shihui's article on

地震预报专家欲哭无泪 :今天的强震有人预报

中国科学院工程地质力学重点实验室   李世煇
2008-05-12 23:45:02





Seismologist with tearless grief: Today's strong quake was predicted
Key Laboratory of Engineering Geomechanics, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Li Shihui
2008-05-12 23:45:02
Under the direction of the modern science and technology of Western World, the forecast of destructive earthquake(over 5 magnitude) is impossible, especially the imminent earthquake prediction, which has been a general consensus in the seismology world. From this point of view, there is no way to well predict the Tangshan earthquake 32 years ago or today's Wenchuan earthquake. The TV program “Read News Everyday”(有报天天读)of Phoenix mentioned: some newspapers said the calamity of Tangshan earthquake is “mainly caused by human error” ; the anchor of “Debate on Current Affairs”(时事辩论会) said: if China had accepted the international aid, hundreds of thousands of people would have survived. Those opinions are not in accord with the facts. The truth is the tragedy might have been avoided if authorities had accepted the views of the scientists, who combined the research of the east and the west. Please refer to the relevant articles I copied or published in my blog.
During 1970‘s, a group of young seismologists in China had achieved great results which were well ahead of the world level by studying the essence of Chinese traditional culture(including the methods that fully make use of the historical documents and “analogy drawn from phenomena”). For example, according to the statistics of the relationship between drought and earthquake throughout the ages(including 1956-1970), Geng Qingguo discovered a law that “the epicentral region always suffered droughts 1-3.5 years before the earthquake over 6 magnitude. Besides, the larger the drought region occupied and the longer the drought lasted, the higher the corresponding magnitude would be.” (2-3.5 years after the long droughts during 512-1879AD, seven 7.5-8 magnitude earthquakes had occurred in China) In 1972, Geng Qingguo put forward a theory of “medium-term earthquake prediction based on the relationship between drought and quake”. By that law, Geng Qingguo successfully predicted the Haicheng earthquake in 1975 and especially the Tangshan earthquake in 1976. In 1980's, He published his treatise The Relationship between Drought and Earthquake in China (Science Press). However, those achievements challenged the powers in the Chinese seismology circle, so Geng Qingguo was shunted from the prediction team to an earthquake newspaper office.
Today is May 12, 2008, Chinese seismologist Geng Qingguo is suffering with tearless grief. In 2006, according to the relationship between drought and earthquake he predicted in recent years there would be a serious earthquake over 7 magnitude in Aba autonomous region. After a group discussion on April 26 and 27, 2008, Committee of Natural Hazards Prediction subordinate to Chinese Geophysical Society (CGS) reported that “a 6-7 magnitude earthquake may occur to the south of Lanzhou, around the borders of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.” (the written report had been sent to the China Earthquake Administration by confidential letter on April 30). What's more, Geng Qingguo clearly indicated that “the dangerous point of an earthquake over 7 magnitude in Aba region is on May 8 (within 10 days before or later)” in accordance with the magnetic storm Combinations.(The prediction above had obviously pointed out all the three essential factors). Geng Qingguo, an undoubted national treasure, is excluded by the earthquake experts of mainstream, and can only depend on a meager pension to continue his research. The pity is what this old seismologist said didn't make any difference.
I am filled with grief and indignation. I was wondering if there will come a day when Geng Qingguo, Wang Chengmin, Ren Zhenqiu and Wangdixing such national treasure are not frozen out any more, and freely work for the rejuvenation of China.


A picture taken before the “From Haicheng Earthquake to Qinglong Miracle Conference” on December 17, 2006. The one siting left is Geng Qingguo, Wang Chengmin on the right and Li Shihui in the middle.

The mass circulation of Li Shihui's article in the blogsphere and BBSs has provoked more criticism on China Earthquake Administration which did not publish any warning before the dreadful earthquake while some other netizens expressed their doubt about Li's unofficial statement.

Comments on KDNET:

作者:东风51 发布于 2008-5-15 0:11:55

Author: Eastwind 51 Posted on 2008-5-15 0:11:55

In a word, the information about the earthquake should be treated with scientific and realistic attitude. Tell the people that those information is neither rumors nor totally reliable truth. I believe people will understand that. To deal with the situation only by violent ideological confrontation can only backfire. The authorities should learn the lesson.
On the other hand, it is really inadvisable to give too much emphasis to Geng Qingguo's prediction, because before the earthquake no one knew whether his prediction was right or not.
Someone may believe that it's a case involving human life, so the authorities should have paid more attention to his prediction. However, those friends may not know there are hundreds and thousands of such kind of prediction. it's not easy for the authorities to pick the valuable out of vast information.

作者:后台操作 发布于 2008-5-15 0:21:34

Author: Background Operation Posted on 2008-5-15 0:21:34
To hell with political needs!

作者:李三来也 发布于 2008-5-15 3:28:16

If the thing is true, the head of the Earthquake Administration should be handed over to the justice!

Comments on Tianya:

作者:中国结3 发布于 2008-5-14 11:13
如果地震局的领导有一丝人性的话 这样的预报至少也应该引起他的一些重视吧 密而不发 他居心何在!!让他去和温总理一起到四川 去挖那些遇难者!!

Author: Chinese Knot 3 Posted on 2008-5-14 11:13
If the head of the Earthquake Administration still had a little humanity, at least he should have paid some attention to the prediction, but he just kept it as secret. What was he up to!! Let him go to Sichuan with Premier Wen and unearth those victims.

作者:游客 发表于 2008-5-14 12:04

Author:Guest Posted on 2008-5-14 12:04
Our country is doing all that which is to be done, but whether the Earthquake Administration carried out their responsibilities? Is there a negligence of duty?? Should the authorities call the Earthquake Administration to account??? All the people are proud of Premier Wen, the rescue officers and soldiers, the medical personnel and the reporters; When those people who are negligent of their duties mourn for the dead, is it necessary to let them experience the bereaved family's feelings???
I have no idea of Seismology and I am not sure whether the person mentioned in the article is a Seismologist. If so, it's really a big woe of China. If China does not value talents, the country will…

作者:游客 发布于 2008-5-14 13:06

Author:Guest Posted on 2008-5-14 12:04
I don't think it's a negligence of duty or problems of prediction capability, but a terrible fear of responsibilities. If the predicted earthquake occurs, the prediction become an honor, but more often the prediction will fail, and in that case who is going to be responsible for the failure? From the technical experts to the chief executive, who is willing to take the risks?

作者:游客 发布于 2008-5-16 3:46

Author:Guest Posted on 008-5-16 3:46
I was in doubt about the earthquake at very beginning. The officials of Earthquake Administration are still practicing Tai chi chuan, prevaricating with a excuse that prediction and early warning are impossible. Bullshit!The work of this Earthquake Administration is only to measure the quake magnitude?
Poor Chinese!!!!! We have lost so many little lives!!!!!!!


  • I would guess that someone out there with some ability predicts an earthquake for nearly every month. I am just not sure the government can be expected to react strongly to each of these or be blamed for not having done so.

  • Earthquake prediction is simply not possible on the level implied in this post and to suggest otherwise is way beyond irresponsible. Seismologists can only give the probability of a quake of a certain magnitude hitting a certain area within the next 50 to 100 years. Please dump all the superstitious un-scientific nonsense where it belongs and stick with the facts. Nobody could possibly have predicted the Wenchuan quake. It’s that simple.

  • Claude

    I don’t think there is anyone who can predict earthquake, And this persion is nothing but a ‘famous’ pseudo-scientist. The area he predicted is still 300km away from the spot, 8 times bigger than the actual area.

  • To Meng Zhang

    Mend Zhang:

    I have a slight favor / suggestion to ask of you. The articles mentioned in the blog above do exist, but could you dig up those articles and published their STATISTICAL RESULTS, particularly, the ones below.

    “Greng Qing-guo, The Study of the Relationship Between Drought and Earthquake in China, Chinese Oceanological Press, Beijing.”

    And this one also.

    “Tang Mao-cang & Hu Zong-hai, A statstical analysis of annual precipitation affected by destructive earthquake, Northwestern Seismological Journal (in Chinese), 12 (1990) , No. 1.”

    The STATISTICAL RESULTS that would be of a particular interest are:

    1. What was the method / procedure of analysis? Correlation, statistical regression, time series analysis, factor analysis, computational modeling, etc.

    2. If they used Correlation analysis, could you find out what the correlation coefficients were?

    3. If they used statistical regression, could you find out what were all of the variables they used for their regression model? And what was the R-square for their full regression models? Or better yet, what the partial R-squares were for all the variables related to precipitation (rain fall).

    4. It they used time series analysis, factor analysis, computational modeling, or other more advance statistical procedures, just let us know b/c the math may get to complicated.

    If you can get the numbers for 1-3, we would greatly appreciate it.

    The reason that those numbers are important is that they allow us to gauge the strength of the relationship between droughts and earthquakes. That is, whether they are WEAKLY relates, MODERATELY so, or STRONGLY.

    And if they use that relationship for prediction, we can, thus, gauge what the power of prediction is. That is, how strongly one variable (like drought) predicts the occurrence of another (like earthquakes).

    It is this kind of information that we have to use to evaluate how credible an earthquake prediction is. Especially, when people make the STRONG claim that earthquakes can be predicted with a degree of accuracy and reliability.

    So, let us know if you are able to dig up those statistical numbers, okay.


  • Dear Kain:

    Thank you for your scientific skepticism.

    Let me first say I have never meant to proclaim the hypothesis in Mr. Li’s blog or in any way try to preach Geng Qingguo’s earthquake prediction.

    The only reason I translate this blog article is because it is being widely spread among the Chinese netizens. I’m not a scientist, so what I know about Geng’s theory is absolutely not more than you, and to explain or translate Geng’s theory is really beyond my reach.

    GVO is a media project mainly covering global conversations online, especially the blogosphere. As an author, I can not and should not judge the material instead of our readers with discerning eyes. What I can only do is to try my best to reflect the popular blogs or controversial topics among the Chinese netizens. That means the blogs or comments translated in my post are not always “right” or “wrong”, but only represent a phenomenon happening in the Chinese net world.

    What’s more, no one is capable to reflect all the opinions in one post, and that’s why we provide a comment section here. When the blogs or comments translated here appear unreasonable or biased to you, you are very welcomed to leave your own comments to correct and balance the ideas quoted in the post.

    Please take note that the views of the blogs and comments translated in the post do not represent the GV author’s opinion, but only a partial description of the Chinese net world. Although we will try our best to reflect as many Chinese netizens’ views as possible, without your illuminating comments, the post can never be really completed.


  • Matt Y.

    If there was ever such a thing like predicting an earthquake… Well, forget it. I don’t study seismology so probably I have no say here – but the vast loss of lives was just such a painful thing to stand.

    I still have some relatives and friends in Sichuan, luckily they are all safe. The aftershocks still come now and then, with around 200 or so above R-level 4.

    It’s such an agonising period for us who have the loved ones still in Sichuan.

  • subjectivelistener

    The underlying statement of this blog is that Chinese government should have paid sufficient attention to those scientists.

    Maybe they should. And I believe they are more than serious to know how to do a better job of prediction, if they can.

    However, it is not the right time to talk about all these. It simply adds more confusion and frustration.

    When you have a crisis, first time is to settle the crisis, then, analyze what can be done better.

    Not a right time topic. Dude.

  • Sonagi

    I am surprised by the skepticism towards Li Shihui’s claims. Have people forgotten the lesson of Qinglong County in 1976? Following up on a general prediction in 1974, a specific prediction with a time frame from late July to early August 1976 was made about two weeks before the Tangshan Earthquake. What impresses me most about the Qinglong story is how local officials coordinated effectively a cooperative effort among members of the community, including students, to prepare and monitor natural conditions.

    It is at the very least a strange coincidence that the Sichuan Provincial Government posted prior to and then deleted afterwards a message refuting rumors of a massive quake epicentered in Barkam County.

    I understand why people might feel this is not the right time, but it is important for relevant information to be published while people’s memories are fresh.

    This controversy reminds me of the 2004 tsunami. People with TVs and radios died in their homes while seafaring peoples of coastal Myanmar survived because they recognized the signs of an impending large wave and took the right precautions. Ordinary people are not qualified to analyze statistical results, but we can learn to observe nature. That is how humans have survived for hundreds of thousands of years.

    I would also like to add that on a personal level, what has touched me the most about the coverage of the earthquake has been the heartwrenching images of children being pulled out of collapsed layers of concrete. Many of these children leave no siblings to care for and comfort parents whose grief is inconsolable.

  • li

    真缺德 !!!在这种抢救人命,抗震救灾的关键时候炒作自己!!!

  • wanglius

    well as you mentioned the qinglong case, i would like to count that one as no more than luck. the qing long government did save lots of precious lives in tangshan earthquake, that was good. but it’s not fair to require government of every single conuty, or even province, or even a state to act as they did. would you imagine if the qinglong government kept every citizen on high tension for a dozen of days or even for a month but the earthquake NEVER occured? anyway it was some probability problem and it could have been that way. and would you imagine if the scale is enlarged so not a county but a province of nearly 100MILLION people living in panic because of an “Earthquake that probabaly never comes”

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