Across China: Revolutionary heartland prospers after escaping poverty

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-27 21:09:14|Editor: Lifang
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NANCHANG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Jinggangshan, the revolutionary cradle of the Communist Party of China (CPC), witnessed rapid growth and improving livelihoods after it was removed from the country's list of impoverished areas a year ago.

The per capita income for rural residents in the remote and hilly city in east China's Jiangxi Province reached 9,606 yuan (1,521 U.S. dollars) in 2017, up 12 percent year on year, a well-deserved first anniversary gift for bidding farewell to poverty.

Jinggangshan was the first region in China to be taken off the "impoverished counties" list. With 28 counties casting off poverty in 2017, China shortened its list of poorest counties for the first time in more than 30 years, a concrete step toward delivering the country's goal of completely eliminating poverty by 2020.

Zuo Xiufa, a 67-year-old emphysema patient, had one of his happiest ever Spring Festivals this year, as his family last year earned more than 50,000 yuan from their adobe-house-turned restaurant.

"Tourists have swarmed in since the first day of Spring Festival," said Zuo, who offers tourists hand-made ciba, a traditional cuisine of cooked glutinous rice pounded into paste.

Zuo's restaurant is among 16 rural guesthouses in Shenshan Village, a remote village that was listed as a 4A scenic spot by the provincial tourism administration in December, the second highest rank in a five-level evaluation system.

Jinggangshan was home to the CPC and its army in the 1920s, both young at the time. The cultural heritage left by the revolutionary era has catalyzed a booming travel industry with a revenue of 13.89 billion yuan in 2017, up 14.7 percent year on year.

To ensure farmers do not return to poverty, the Jinggangshan municipal government invested 460 million yuan mainly on social security, health care, resettlement and industrial development to consolidate poverty-alleviation achievements in 2017, 40 million yuan more than that in 2016, said Wu Taiming, head of the rural work department of the CPC Jinggangshan municipal committee.

"We already cast off poverty and are on the way to a well-off life," Zuo said.

The poverty rate fell from 1.6 percent in 2016 to 0.42 percent in 2017, according to Jiao Xuejun, mayor of Jinggangshan. A county can be removed from the list if less than 2 percent of its population lives below the poverty line, defined as a per capita annual income of 2,300 yuan at 2010 prices.

"We only eliminated extreme poverty, but those who were lifted out of poverty might still be living in difficulties," said Huang Changhui, deputy head of the municipal poverty alleviation and resettlement office, adding that the poverty line was low.

Mayor Jiao said that industrial development was key to the prosperity of the countryside and consolidating poverty reduction.

In a trial, a yellow peach base in Maoping township invited 102 households, lifted out of poverty in 2016, to become shareholders. Without any cash input but land and a government poverty alleviation fund as investment, they will enjoy 22.5 percent of the profit after harvest, according to Liu Xiaoquan, the township Party secretary.

"Farmers can also take part in the planting and management of the peaches, with a daily income of 100 yuan," Liu said. "Each household is expected to receive nearly 30,000 yuan as a dividend this July."