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Village on a cliff gets connected

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu and Li Xiaokun in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-11 06:57

New ladder, mobile and broadband service are making life much easier

A village in Southwest China's Sichuan province that used to be difficult to reach now has access to a mobile and broadband service thanks to poverty relief efforts.

About 50 residents in Atuleer, a village in Zhaojue county, the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, have mobile phones, and eight have broadband service in their homes, said village head Er Dijiang.

Atuleer, home to 500 villagers living atop a cliff more than 1,400 meters high, used to rely on an 800-meter zigzag network of rattan ladders with no railings, which was the only link to the outside world.

Villagers used these ladders to reach the nearest market several kilometers away once a week to sell peppers and walnuts, and to buy necessities. It took young villagers three hours to descend the cliff via the ladders, while old ones had to stay at home.

The village even caught the attention of President Xi Jinping. In a recent discussion with National People's Congress deputies from Sichuan, Xi said he felt worried when he learned from TV that Atuleer villagers were connected to the outside by the rattan structure.

Xi told the delegates on Wednesday that the entire process of poverty reduction required tailored relief policies and precision measures, and sometimes patience and accuracy such as "doing embroidery".

Song Ming, an information officer for the prefecture's government who has experience of climbing rattan ladders, said there are many rattan structures in Liangshan, but the one in Atuleer is the most dangerous.

Photos published by a Beijing newspaper in May of pupils climbing up the cliff on the rattan ladders prompted Liangshan officials to replace the ladders with a steel one.

Construction of the new ladder with handrails was completed in November. It cost 1 million yuan ($144,584), with the Liangshan and Zhaojue governments splitting the cost. The new ladder has cut the time taken to descend the cliff by an hour.

In November, China Telecom began to install the wireless and broadband network in the village. This work was completed at the end of December.

Liangshan, one of Sichuan's least developed areas, boasts China's largest population of Yi people. Nearly 530,000 villagers live below the poverty line, which is an annual income of 2,300 yuan.

Liangshan Party chief Lin Shucheng said the prefecture lifted 113,500 people out of poverty last year and will lift another 134,700 this year.

Inaccessibility and mountainous areas are to blame for poverty in Liangshan. The prefecture will build roads for people in inaccessible areas and move those in mountainous areas.

Contact the writers at huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/11/2017 page5)

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