China's iconic revolutionary base sheds poverty label

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/5/8 18:55:56

The former residence of an "educated youth" in Liangjiahe village, Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province Photo:IC

Yan'an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is no longer labeled "poor," as its last two impoverished counties have shaken off poverty, the Shaanxi provincial government announced Tuesday.

Yan'an hosted the then headquarters of the CPC and the center of the Communist revolution from 1935 to 1948. The city is now home to more than 350 sites related to the Chinese revolution.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the need to end poverty in old revolutionary base areas and improve local people's standard of living. Xi said a well-off society is incomplete if people in old revolutionary base areas cannot shake off poverty.

The counties of Yanchuan and Yichuan, with a population of 192,000 and 120,000 respectively and both located along the western bank of the Yellow River, have limited fertile valley fields. 

American journalist Edgar Snow wrote in his 1937 book Red Star over China that the area was "one of the poorest parts of China" he had seen.

According to the provincial poverty relief office, poverty-stricken residents in the two counties now only account for 1.06 and 0.58 percent respectively of their populations, meeting the country's requirement for an impoverished county to cast off the title.

An investment of 6.25 billion yuan ($920 million) from the central and local governments has been poured into Yan'an over the past four years.

To ensure that every household could get rid of poverty, the city has sent a total of 1,784 Party chiefs, 1,546 working teams and 37,400 officials to live in the villages to help with poverty alleviation.

A total of 693 impoverished villages in the city have shaken off poverty, with 195,000 people being lifted out of poverty.

The cradle of the revolution has continued to undergo tremendous changes over the past decades. 

Improved environment and infrastructure, booming agricultural economy, increasingly affordable education and healthcare, and multiple career choices and opportunities for rural residents have rejuvenated the city.

Greener city on loess plateau

Located in the hinterland of the Loess Plateau, where 258 million tonnes of mud and sand were once washed into the Yellow River each year, Yan'an used to be vulnerable to drought and floods.

Mashuping, a cliff village on the Yellow River bank, was one of the poorest villages in Yichuan county, where most of its population are living in the mountainous areas.

Until the completion of a road, Fu Changhong from a registered poor household in Mashuping had never been to the renowned Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River, only 30 kilometers away from his village.

The road Fu mentioned is a newly built highway along the Yellow River, which opened to traffic in 2017.

The north-south highway, stretching 828.5 kilometers along the west bank of the Yellow River, has contributed to the poverty alleviation of the three once poorest counties of Yan'an, including Yichuan and Yanchuan.

"In the past, we had no ways to go out of the village but a narrow meandering footpath," Fu said. "I used to look at the Yellow River and thought how nice if it were a road."

About 20 years ago, local villagers started to grow Sichuan pepper trees, seeds of which are a popular seasoning found in Sichuan cuisine. But they had to sell the farm produce at very low prices to dealers who came by motorbikes.

"With the highway, we can sell peppers to factories directly at much better prices," said Fu.

Career sets sail

Training impoverished people and

offering them suitable jobs is one of the measures Yan'an has come up with. Though the nearest sea is more than 1,000 kilometers away, Yan'an is proud of its sailor education. 

Nearly 2,000 sailors have graduated from Yan'an Vocational and Technical College over the past decade.

Poorly educated, Yang Yufan saw no future, until he was enrolled in a four-month vocational training course as a sailor at the college.

After graduation, he got a job on a cargo ship in Southeast Asia.

Now, his monthly salary is $1,200. He paid off his parents' debt and built a two-story house in his hometown.

The city government has also cut tuition fees to encourage more people from poor households to participate in various vocational training, according to Yang.

Yan'an will continue to help the remaining impoverished people shake off poverty, and strive to enter a moderately prosperous society in all respects with the rest of the country by 2020, said Xu Xinrong, Party chief of the city.

Newspaper headline: Brighter future

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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