Latest News
Feature: China's rural poor find new horizons in infrastructure development
Last Updated: 2024-02-29 08:01 | Xinhua
 Save  Print   E-mail
KUNMING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Nestled in a narrow river valley in one of southwest China's most remote regions, the Drung ethnic group stands out as one of the country's few communities to transition from a primitive tribe to modern life.
Once among China's poorest, the minority community is now no stranger to video calls and internet surfing, all under the coverage of 5G technology.
In 2018, residents of Dulongjiang Township in Drung-Nu Autonomous County of Gongshan, the primary dwelling place of the Drung people, bid farewell to poverty that had plagued them for generations. The community had two main reasons to rejoice: the construction of a new highway through the towering mountains and the building of a communication network for rapid information transmission.
Over the decades, China, renowned for its infrastructure development, has constructed numerous public utilities to spearhead its battle against persistent poverty.
It is the unwavering commitment of the country that has ushered in a continuous flow of modern knowledge and advanced market concepts to its rural areas, inspiring locals to transition from mere dwellers to active market participants. This transformation has played a crucial role in their involvement in China's poverty alleviation campaign.
In Dizhengdang Village of Dulongjiang Township, located in the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, Li Wenshi, a woman in her 70s adorned with a distinctive indigo tattoo of her ethnic group on her face, is working tenaciously in a quaint courtyard. She skillfully weaves cloth for a traditional Drung blanket, with vibrant cotton threads swiftly transforming into fabric beneath her weathered hands, making the blanket unfold like a dazzling rainbow.
Originally made of linen threads, the Drung blanket was mainly used both as a garment during the day and a quilt at night because of its durability.
In the past, the Drung people endured a challenging life marked by poor local transportation and snowbound mountains in winter, limiting their resources. Consequently, they were compelled to craft simple and coarse blankets under these harsh conditions. The traditional craftsmanship during that time often provided minimal comfort but lacked aesthetic appeal.
In her youth, Li would embark on a journey lasting over half a month, navigating a horse trail to reach the nearby county seat of Gongshan. There, she would procure dozens of pounds of daily necessities and vibrant colored cotton threads to be used in crafting the blankets.
The completion of a major tunnel on the Dulongjiang River highway in 2014 drastically reduced travel time for the Drung people, allowing them to reach the county seat within only three hours.
Since then, an increasing influx of vibrant cotton threads and wool balls has penetrated the secluded Dulongjiang Township, transforming the once obscure ethnic blankets into coveted souvenirs adorned with a spectrum of vivid colors and softer textures. Now transcending its traditional role as just a blanket, these materials are fashioned into backpacks, scarves, vests and even creatively incorporated into earrings and headdresses, catering to the evolving demands of tourists.
The market's formidable influence stands as an important force in the global battle against poverty. Building a market environment conducive to the upliftment of the impoverished marks a great innovation in China's approach to poverty reduction, and it continues to play an important role in consolidating the achievements of absolute poverty eradication as well as in the country's rural revitalization drive.
Such an inclusive and borderless market, where the rural impoverished population can increase their incomes directly, is built upon the government's continuous implementation of a large-scale supply of public goods.
To integrate the poverty-stricken people into the market, China has allocated substantial funds, resources and comprehensive training programs. These initiatives are meticulously designed to reshape the mindsets of individuals with the capacity to work, facilitating their transition from being mere individuals to becoming "market persons" equipped with a profound understanding of customers, service dynamics and market intricacies.
Dulongjiang Township once relied on a neighboring county in the Xizang Autonomous Region for mobile phone signals. The township could accommodate only around 10 mobile phones for calls simultaneously, rendering Dulongjiang an information silo.
In an effort to connect local residents to the wider world, China Mobile, the country's leading telecom giant, has set up 68 base stations in the township. Thanks to these infrastructure projects, almost the entire township is now covered by the 4G network and all administrative villages within the township have seamless access to the 5G signals.
These initiatives have not only fostered a surge in e-commerce but have also catalyzed a livestreaming boom in the township. This, in turn, has attracted a growing number of outsiders eager to know about the local ethnic group through short videos and livestreaming platforms powered by high-speed internet.
Meanwhile, the integration of new technologies and e-commerce business models has led to a continuous streamlining of transaction processes and a reduction in transaction costs. This has significantly enhanced the marketability of production factors in poverty-stricken areas, ultimately contributing to an increase in the income of impoverished households
Thanks to the high-speed and stable 5G network coupled with efficient logistics, the local specialties of Dulongjiang Township, such as honey, Chinese herbal medicines, morel mushrooms and Drung blankets, can now reach customers nationwide. This expanded market access has resulted in a significant economic upturn for local villagers. Last year, the total collective economic assets of Dizhengdang Village topped 350,000 yuan (about 50,000 U.S. dollars) and the average household dividend reached nearly 2,000 yuan.
Digital infrastructure involving daily life is also advancing in Dulongjiang. The township government and some local village committees have launched their e-government platforms to improve work efficiency, while villagers can receive medical advice from experts living in the provincial capital via video linking.
Li Wenshi has expanded her market reach beyond visiting tourists, now selling Drung blankets to netizens across the country through her daughter's livestreaming show on social media. Despite not speaking Mandarin, Li can instantly receive payments via e-wallets, which showcases the transformative impact of technology on traditional businesses.
A diverse array of local specialties like the Drung blankets has gained popularity as sought-after commodities.
In 2007, Dulongjiang Township began the plantation of tsao-ko amomum fruits, and by the end of 2022, the total planting area in the township totaled nearly 5,500 hectares, with its output value reaching about 20 million yuan.
"My family plants more than 2 hectares of tsao-ko amomum fruits, which generate an income of almost 14,000 yuan a year," said Meng Guorong, who hails from Bapo Village administered by Dulongjiang Township. "People who plant more fruits can rake in up to 100,000 yuan a year."
People are not only converting their labor into income but also turning resources into revenue in Dulongjiang. The township has diversified its industries to include, among others, cattle breeding, beekeeping and tourism.
"By the end of 2022, the per capita net income of farmers in the township reached 15,993 yuan, the average household deposit exceeded 50,000 yuan, and more than 85 percent of local families had their own motor vehicles," said He Wenbao, Party secretary of the township.
Within the global academic community, a burgeoning debate revolves around strategies to assist the impoverished in overcoming the "poverty of hope." In China, however, a decisive approach has already yielded substantial benefits for millions. As people are the most essential and dynamic element of productivity, the key to effective and sustainable poverty reduction lies in substantial investments in human capital.
The high-quality communication network has empowered the people in Dizhengdang Village to proactively enhance their digital literacy, leading to a noticeable boost in their morale and enthusiasm. In the digital age, even the local elderly are proficiently navigating social media platforms such as WeChat and Douyin, joining their fellow villagers in embracing the technological shift.
The senior villagers like Li Wenshi were not left behind in the digital upgrade.
"In the past, there was no electricity, and thus our family used to go to bed early as soon as it got dark," said Li Yuhua, daughter of Li Wenshi. "But now, my mom often watches news programs on the television, and she loves swiping her phone to browse the viral short videos just like young generations nowadays until it is almost midnight. She even knows how to pay via scanning QR codes."
For the elder lady, there seemed to be little fun that could really make her laugh heartily before the arrival of internet. However, she just can't help laughing nowadays at all kinds of interesting and novel stuff in her daily life brought by the mobile network.
"Now, the villagers exhibit improved attire and communication skills compared to the past, reflecting a noticeable increase in their confidence levels," said Yang Wenbin, the first secretary of Dizhengdang Village's Party committee.
Yang added that since gaining access to external information through the internet, the locals have grown more assertive in marketing their agricultural products and handicrafts. "In the past, outsiders would come and dictate the prices at which they would purchase our goods. With the advent of high-speed internet, everyone now has the opportunity to independently sell their products at more favorable prices."
As poverty is a complex issue involving both material and psychological factors, poverty reduction is not only a unilateral task of the government but also requires the extensive participation of multiple parties. The strategic pairing of enterprises with village collectives is a crucial policy tool in China's endeavors to uplift marginalized areas, facilitating a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction.
Since 1995, the Beijing-based China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) has been providing targeted assistance to Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, especially the Dulongjiang Township. The company has injected significant financial, human, and material resources into the area, ranging from tsao-ko amomum fruit processing to rural tourism development, all efforts geared towards fostering the growth of the local economy.
The CCCC Group invested 10 million yuan to build an industrial park in Dulongjiang. With a daily processing capacity of 60 tonnes, this industrial facility carries out the collection, drying and processing of the local agricultural products.
In April 2022, with the help of CCCC, Dulongjiang Township established a construction company under the frame of village collective economy. Zhang Jinhua, a well-known contractor from the township, was hired as the manager of the construction company to undertake projects from the CCCC and the local government.
The construction company has not only contributed to the local economy but has also liberated local people from traditional production fields. Hosting five training sessions to date, they have successfully equipped 26 individuals with the essential skills needed to become proficient industrial workers.
East China's Shanghai Pudong New Area, in partnership with the CCCC Group, has helped set up a rural revitalization demonstration site in Dizhengdang Village.
All the main buildings in this community are modeled after the traditional Drung ethnic minority dwellings constructed using locally sourced materials, highlighting the unique architectural features of the ethnic minority.
In addition to economic development, the township government has implemented environmental improvement initiatives along villages, roads and rivers while encouraging villagers to build their own beautiful courtyards and cultivate small vegetable gardens. This initiative follows a "work-for-relief" approach, where the government supplies cement and offers other subsidies, and the Drung ethnic group actively contributes through manual labor.
The locals have built their courtyard walls with cobblestones from the riverbanks and planted trees and vegetables in their gardens.
Though initially some villagers were not very enthusiastic, the process turned out to be a profound learning experience, according to Yu Minghua, deputy head of Dulongjiang Township.
"After the work team entered the village, the cadres explained the policies to the villagers in dialect or their ethnic language and clarified the tangible benefits," Yu said. "In addition, the village cadres and local Party members, who took the lead in trying out the measures, played an exemplary role. Their proactive involvement has gradually helped shift the mindset of the locals."
All these endeavors share a common goal which is to expand opportunities for collectives and villagers to augment their income, nurture skilled workers, and address the challenges posed by the weak collective economy in rural areas.
One of Li Wenshi's biggest wishes for the new year is to have her grandchildren equipped with new knowledge and techniques through the national education system so that their generation can step out of the mountains to embrace a better life.
Education stands at the core of mindset transformation and moral quality improvement. Transitioning from a once isolated and primitive slash-and-burn society to today's modern socialist society, the Drung people saw the establishment of their first elementary school in Dulongjiang Township as late as 1956.
Today, children in Dulongjiang enjoy remarkably easy access to a diverse array of modernized educational and teaching resources, all made possible through technological advancements.
In 2022, China Mobile's Nujiang branch, a local communication carrier, extended crucial "cloud desktop" support to Dulongjiang Nine-Year Comprehensive School. This initiative aimed to enhance the school's hardware infrastructure through informatization, thereby elevating teaching quality with the inclusion of remote education options. Today, this school is equipped with laboratories, computer rooms, multimedia classrooms, and other modern teaching equipment and facilities.
"When I came here eight years ago, the remote education network had not yet been connected to every single class here," said Yang Pengju, a biology teacher at the school. "Starting from the third grade, local pupils now sit in computerized classrooms and learn information technology-related courses."
Yang added that each classroom is now equipped with China Mobile's network infrastructure, which facilitates the sharing of high-quality educational resources from Shanghai's twinning schools through the network platform, and open classes can be held online.
Relying on the remote education network, China Mobile has helped Dulongjiang Nine-Year Comprehensive School build high-tech classrooms, realizing remote interactive teaching between teachers and students in Dulongjiang and faraway Kunming, Shanghai, and other developed cities.
By improving communication in teaching across diverse regions, students in border areas of China, such as those in Dulongjiang, can now access the same high-quality teaching resources as their counterparts in provincial capitals and first-tier cities.
As the well-known proverb goes, it is always more beneficial to teach a man how to fish than to simply give him a fish. The Drung people are continuously enhancing their well-being by acquiring new skills and cultivating new ideas.
In this digital era, with access to new opportunities and robust infrastructure, these people, driven by a profound sense of ownership, are taking the initiative to overcome poverty and embrace modern life. 

(Editor:Wang Su)

Related Articles:
  • Sports
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Formula One
  • Athletics
  • Others
  • Entertainment
  • Celebrity
  • Movie & TV
  • Music
  • Theater & Arts
  • Fashion
  • Beauty Pageant
About | About the Economic Daily | Contact us
Copyright 2003-2024 China Economic Net. All right reserved
Feature: China's rural poor find new horizons in infrastructure development
Source:Xinhua | 2024-02-29 08:01