Across China: Out of mountains, out of poverty

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-27 22:00:14|Editor: Li Xia
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SHIJIAZHUANG, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- An old water tank was the only piece of furniture that Tang Rongming brought with him when his family moved in July, from their old adobe house in the deep mountains to their new two-story house.

Tang, 75, said his family had used the tank to store water for daily use when they lived in the Heilingou Village of Fuping County, in northern China's Hebei Province. The area was in a remote backwater tucked away in the Taihang Mountain.

"Heilingou Village had only two water wells and faced severe water shortage," Tang said. "The water tank, which is even older than me, helped us through the most difficult times."

"Now that we've moved to our new home, we are keeping it as a reminder of the old days," he added.

Heilingou Village was home to 208 people from 99 households, and over half of them lived under the national poverty line, due to adverse natural environment and poor infrastructure in the area.

Thanks to a poverty-relief relocation project launched by the local government in July, 74 of the households, like Tang's family, have moved to a resettlement site in Longquangou Township of Fuping County, about 5 km away from Heilingou.

Each family was granted a house with flushing toilets, central heating, gas and tap water. The other 25 households chose to receive compensation from the local government to resettle in other places.

Sun Shumei, Tang's wife, said when their family lived in Heilingou, they could barely make ends meet with their annual income of about 3,000 yuan (about 419 U.S. dollars) from growing potatoes and corn.

"Our old home was about 50 meters away from the public toilet in the village. It was really difficult to use the toilet during the freezing winters," Sun said. "I never imagined living a big house like this."

"Now I buy food from the stores right outside our community, and my grandson studies at a nearby school," described Sun. "And with natural gas, I no longer need to stand the smoke from the burning firewood."

Heilingou's Party chief, Luo Siqing, stated before this year's relocation project, that no new house had been built in the poverty-stricken village in the past 40 years. "Many young people left Heilingou to find jobs and to get married."

However, with the latest resettlement project, some young people are considering going back and finding a job closer to their hometown.

Tang and Sun's son, who used to work in Hebei's city of Baoding, decided to return to his parents' new home in July along with his wife and two children. The family now earns about 30,000 yuan a year.

To fulfill the mission of eradicating absolute poverty by 2020, just like in these real-life stories, China has been helping impoverished people move from mountainous regions to resettle in places with better natural environments and living conditions.

In Fuping County alone, a total of 41 poverty-relief relocation projects have been implemented in the past six years, with more than 50,000 people from over 17,000 households relocated to their new homes.

The county's poverty headcount ratio has dropped to 6.93 percent, and the per capita disposable income of the county's rural residents has increased to 8,590 yuan, more than double the number in 2012.

Like many of his neighbors, Tang still has a place in his heart for his old adobe house in Heilingou. He often gazes in the direction of his old home from the balcony of his new house.

"When I remember how hard life was in the past, it's then I can truly appreciate how sweet life is today," Tang professed.