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Country life is a double-edged sword

By Zhang Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-13 09:40
An aerial view of a residential community in Luotuowan village in Fuping county, Hebei province, on Aug 7, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua] 

A tour of Fuping-a county in Hebei province once officially designated as impoverished-reminded me of how grateful people in remote rural areas are to be leading better lives and how eager they are for an even better future.

During my three-day tour, I visited the homes of several villagers, company managers and public servants. Each had a story to tell about the progress made in their fields, and they each had their own special tale to relate.

"Several years ago, there were no traffic lights on the roads in the center of Fuping," said Li Xiuqin, who works for the local government's publicity department.

I know that when a place is poor, it may lag behind in terms of infrastructure, but not even having traffic lights on main roads still startled me.

Li, a local, left to attend university, and has seen what big cities are like. When I asked why he didn't stay in the city after graduation, he replied that he "came back to do something for my poor hometown".

Fuping is located in the Taihang Mountains, which is a double-edged sword. Although beautiful, most of the land is mountainous, so no industries can be attracted and developed.

The residents live on crops whose yields are decided by the low-cultivable land and uncertain weather. That's a poor start.

However, while driving around, I saw green mountains and blue skies. I breathed clean air and chatted easily with kind, simple people. I saw seasonal vegetables growing in the yard of a villager whose house is a rural version of a villa. Isn't this a perfect escape for city dwellers?

"How lucky you are to live in nature like this," I told Li.

He smiled and shook his head.

"A stay of one or two days is good, but as for living here, we still need more," he said, referring to the convenience and public services in big cities.

In the past few years, Li has witnessed big changes in Fuping, such as residents moving into new apartments and gaining stable jobs, and village officials helping to develop tourism and attract businesses.

He told me some news that excited him greatly-a high-speed railway that will pass through the county will be built soon.

"When it becomes operational, the line will shorten the journey time to Beijing and other big cities," he said.

He was talking about a line that will link Xiongan New Area in Hebei and Xinzhou in Shanxi province, a section of the key north-south railway.

Li took out his phone and showed me on a map how close Fuping is to Beijing, Xiongan and Wutaishan, a scenic mountain spot in Shanxi.

"It will just take one hour to get to the capital-how wonderful is that?" he said.

He noted that the high-speed railway will not just be used by Fuping residents, but will allow more tourists to visit the county and bring more opportunities for economic development.

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