Economic growth vital for revitalization of rural culture

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-2-26 23:23:01

During the Spring Festival, the most important festival in Chinese culture, hundreds of millions of people return to their hometowns to celebrate with their families. For those who return to the countryside from the city, there may be mixed feelings. A recent article by a doctorate candidate surnamed Wang, who is specializing in cultural studies in Shanghai, has caught massive attention and spurred wide discussions about the problems facing the rural areas such as the withering rural culture.

The piece by Wang, who grew up in the countryside in Central China's Hubei Province, also resulted in a series of articles in which the writers either echoed or argued against Wang's memories of the honest and amiable connections with others in rural areas. They expressed concerns about the transformation of rural culture and problems in developing the countryside.

However, many of these commentators are now living in the cities and their feelings about the countryside are built on their impressions that may go too idealistic and romanticized.

They tend to sugar up the past reality in the rural areas, where there was sluggish economic development, backward education, material shortages and barren cultural life, and try to turn away from cities to seek some comfort from the countryside.

For more than three decades, China's rapid economic development has undisputedly benefited rural areas. In 2013, China had about 268 million rural migrant workers and their move away from agriculture has improved their financial situation. They can afford to renovate or rebuild their homes and install new amenities such as running water and cable television.

China has adopted many measures to lessen the burden of rural residents, such as abolishing the centuries-old agricultural tax and introducing a new rural cooperative medical scheme to ensure they get access to healthcare.

However, as China is in the transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one, the rural areas are experiencing a cultural transformation. The past rural culture has been broken, and a new one has yet to be established. But boosting the economy in the countryside is still the only way to advance the development of rural culture.

In building a new cultural scheme for rural areas, government policies are naturally needed to support the endeavor. But in the meantime, individuals can go beyond whining about their concerns and take actions. Many college graduates have chosen to become farmers and promote their agricultural products via e-commerce, which proves a feasible way to bring new ideas to the countryside.

Posted in: Observer

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