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Improving lives at local level is crucial for progress

By Alexis Hooi | China Daily | Updated: 2021-02-26 10:43
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In his younger days, Guo Lianbing would wander around his village picking fights with people. He gained a reputation for his roguish ways, as many villagers recall.

Many of them would probably have found it hard to imagine that Guo, now 48, would become an exemplary local official, dedicating himself to improving their lives.

"Planting new cash crops like lily bulbs, laying out more pipes for the water supply or linking people to the internet for e-commerce...We're focused on upgrading. It's a hands-on approach," Guo says.

Guo is the deputy head of Yuangudui, a village in Weiyuan county of Dingxi in Northwest China's Gansu province. Less than a decade ago, Yuangudui was still known as one of the poorest spots in the country.

But grassroots leaders like Guo, many of them from the younger generation, have fueled the country's success in fighting poverty. Their determination to help impoverished families in their communities and beyond never fails to impress me every time I get the chance to visit poverty-hit areas.

Dong Jianxin, 39, who leads local agricultural and tourism projects, also returned to the village after various job stints. He is now working closely with fellow villagers to farm valuable morel mushrooms, tapping technology like hydroponics and aeroponics he learned from agricultural specialists to scale up production. The crop, which can sell for about 200 yuan ($31) a kilogram in its raw form and 10 times more after being dried or processed, has been integral in helping to lift the village out of poverty.

"I want all of us to become prosperous together, only then can progress be made," Dong says.

In Bulenggou, another village of the province lauded as a model of anti-poverty measures, local official Shan Binjie keeps close track of development to help ensure that residents are doing well.

"We have 62 households, 315 people here. We've invested in basic infrastructure, waterworks, roads, housing, education, healthcare and industry," the 30-year-old village Party secretary says.

"In terms of livestock production alone, we have set up two sheep facilities that can hold 6,000 animals. There are similar cattle and poultry projects, with households involved receiving good bonuses," he says.

In Dulongjiang township of Southwest China's Yunnan province, Chen Lu, 26, is also spending the prime of her youth helping families keep up with the area's development.

Chen, who is deputy head of the Xianjiudang village work team and a member of the political and legal committee of the county Party committee, says with adequate transportation, education and healthcare in place, the ethnic Derung community is expanding the economy beyond black cardamom cash crops to explore the eco-tourism and other sectors.

"Residents can get loans and subsidies. We want them to be part of the growth," she says.

Mu Wenjun, 29, deputy director of Dulongjiang's Kongdang village, returned home after tertiary studies four years ago. Mu helps his fellow Derung villagers to be part of the expanding economic and social programs.

"I decided to come back instead of staying on in the city," Mu says. "It can be tough to get everyone on board, especially the older, elderly residents, such as convincing and training them in new agricultural practices. But the benefits are clear and they realize it's worth it."

Lu Xiaodong, the 33-year-old deputy head of Xia'nan town in Huanjiang Maonan autonomous county of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, also keeps his finger on the area's development pulse.

More than 70 households will be getting 20,000 yuan each under a major project to grow the local cattle industry alone, he says.

"It's just one of our ways to make sure residents, through local conditions and advantages, share in the progress together."

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