China / Politics

Li visits isolated county in NW China

By Zhao Yinan ( Updated: 2014-01-27 16:14

Li visits isolated county in NW China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks with vendors and buyers at a fair in Ankang city, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, Jan 27, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Keqiang visited a mountainous county in Shaanxi province on Monday to deliver greetings ahead of Lunar New Year.

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Li greeted customers at a market fair at Xiaohe, Ankang, where nearby villagers went to purchase food and other groceries for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

At the market, vendors lined up along a winding country road. Red lanterns, firecrackers and many other kinds of commodities were available. Children holding balloons with printed cartoon figures were dressed up in festival jackets. The market was replete with an air of the approaching festivities.

At the market, Li inquired about the price and varieties of food and daily supplies. On hearing that many villagers were migrant workers who had recently returned home, he asked them to take care of themselves when working elsewhere.

"Being a migrant worker is an honorable job, not only for an individual's family, but also the country," he said.

After leaving the market, Li was driven to a country road he walked along to visit families living in the village of Jinpo on the mountain.

At the home of Yang Kang, on learning Yang's father is working in coastal Zhejiang province, Li suggested the 12-year-old make a phone call to her father.

The father, Yang Xiufeng, told the premier he has been working as a fisherman in Zhejiang province for 10 years.

Yang's wife left in the early 2000s, three years after having their daughter, as she was unable to bear the difficulties of life in the village. Jinpo, located on a mountain in Xunyang county, is an unplanned village naturally formed over the years. Most dwellings are earth-built and leak during rain and snow.

Until recent years, no water or electricity supply was available to the 158 households in the isolated mountain community. A government-built water pump, set up in 2007, stopped working in September due to unusual drought last year.

Young residents went to nearby cities to look for opportunities, while women and the elderly stayed behind to look after the land and children. They plant wheat on small plots of land on the mountain. The average area of arable land for each household is about 4 mu (0.27 hectare), a significantly low level even in the countryside known for its arable land shortage. For years, the government has made efforts to alleviate poverty in the region, teaching locals to plant economic crops, such as tobacco, and raise pigs.

In 2013, the annual income per capita reached 3,860 yuan ($640). A cement road was constructed to the entrance of the village and water pipes installed.

Hua Zelin, a 42-year-old man who lives next to Yang, said his best hope is that his elder son, who is about to take the college entrance exam in two years, can be admitted into a decent school. Hua does simple laboring in a brick factory in the provincial capital of Xi'an to support his family. For making bricks, Hua earns 100 yuan each day.

"Our generation might have been stuck here. But I hope my son is able to leave," he said.

Previously, at a poverty alleviation meeting on Sunday, Li said poverty alleviation should emphasize promoting the capabilities of residents, and governments should work out tailored anti-poverty policies for different areas.

"In those areas where the environment is unsuitable for living, the residents should be moved to nearby small cities to fundamentally improve their living conditions," he said.

Li visits isolated county in NW China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks with vendors and buyers at a fair in Ankang city, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, Jan 27, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

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