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Mountain town takes high road to success

By Hou Liqiang and Zhou Lihua in Moudao, Hubei | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-23 07:09

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of reports China Daily will publish in the coming weeks focusing on efforts to raise living standards in the country's rural areas, especially among members of the nation's ethnic groups.

Profound changes have occurred in Moudao, once a deserted town, since the local government brought in real estate tourism developers as part of a poverty relief campaign that made full use of the town's natural advantages: a high rate of green coverage and cool temperatures during summer.

Before the tourism push began in 2011, Moudao's people could hardly harvest enough to eat from the limited farmland, which supported only potatoes and corn.

Back then, few people were to be seen on the 3.5-meter-wide road in the mountain-encompassed town, according to Qin Taixiang, a local writer who has chronicled the town's development for many years.

"The average per capita cultivated land in my village, Yaocai, is less than 1 mu (0.07 hectare). People think their lives are good if they have enough potatoes to eat. Almost 80 percent of the adults left town temporarily, and the terrible conditions prompted more than 10 households to relocate to other areas permanently," said the 56-year-old resident of the town, which is in the Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture of Hubei province.

The large number of villagers who left resulted in Moudao being nicknamed "the biggest source of migrant workers in Hubei", and Wang Houjun, the mayor, said half of the 70,000 residents were once employed in other cities and towns nationwide.

But much has changed.

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