HEFEI, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- As his
conversation in a mountain village museum proceeded, all the familiar
laughs that Zimbabwean youth Albert Mhangami saw during his trip flashed
into his mind, warmly and inspiringly.
was "a laugh that was shared by the people of that village, by the
hundreds of millions of people that had been pulled out of destitution,"
as he wrote later.
participating in the conversation were South African teacher Shaun Nish,
his daughter Rebecca Nish and Malaysian media worker Michael Chick,
which was the final part of their five-day trip to Jinzhai County, east
China's Anhui Province.
once-impoverished county, the group of foreigners experienced rural life
and saw China's poverty-alleviation efforts first-hand.
the end of 2020, all of China's nearly 100 million impoverished rural
residents living below the current poverty line had shaken off poverty.
All of the 832 poor counties, including Jinzhai, had been lifted out of
JOURNEY OF SURPRISES
Back at Tsinghua University where the 27-year-old studies, Mhangami has been a keen researcher of China's fight against poverty.
in macro-level, theoretical studies, he finally got the chance to have
real interactions with the people that he has been researching.
was expecting to see a lot of old people and very few young people,
less technology and the infrastructure more oriented toward getting
business in rather than getting business out," Mhangami said.
However, a series of surprises were in store for the group.
local villages, Mhangami met many young people working in various
professions, including teachers, farmers, grocery store owners, doctors,
grassroots civil servants and e-commerce entrepreneurs.
of the most impressive among them was Zhang Chuanfeng, an internet
celebrity whose family used to be identified as an impoverished
Thanks to the government
subsidization and favorable policies such as free rent accommodation,
Zhang set up a store in 2017 that buys local specialties from many
impoverished families and then sells them online to consumers across the
"He has a massive online
presence. I think he had around 50 million views for one of his videos,"
Mhangami said, after collaborating on two TikTok videos with Zhang to
promote local goods like dried sweet potatoes and tea.
year, the e-commerce store achieved total revenue of more than 5
million yuan (about 773,000 U.S. dollars), with a profit of about
China's development of
internet infrastructure and booming digital economy in this rural area
also surprised the rest of the group.
amount of infrastructure that is available is what really shocked me. I
was expecting smaller roads and a lot less infrastructure than what
there is here," Shaun Nish said.
Nish and Rebecca Nish, who live in Anhui's capital of Hefei, were also
delighted with the fact that there was easy access to wireless internet
and TV service in the villages.
it is not just wifi. It's internet connectivity. That's pretty much how
this village is able to market its products," said Chick, who has
traveled to many South East Asian countries for TV production.
BASIC NEEDS AND BEYOND
visiting local residences and tourist sites, Mhangami was greeted with a
smile by village community cleaner Zhou Duanqiong.
told him that her husband died many years ago, and she used to
financially support the whole family by running a small shop, but the
income was far from enough to live a comfortable life.
in 2016, things changed for Zhou. A new housing and infrastructure
project was launched in her community, which gave her family a roof over
As Mhangami learned,
the government's project involved purchasing the residents' worn-down
houses at a high price, building better-quality residences and then
selling these new homes back to them at a lower price with additional
Besides that, the
government also launched a tourism infrastructure project. The influx of
tourists resulted in more income and more job openings, including
Zhou's community cleaning position.
a village primary school, Mhangami talked with a class of students,
whose topics ranged from the new infrastructure of the entire village to
subsidized meals at school.
An injured child with a sling on his arm told Mhangami how his medical bill was largely covered by the government.
is the medical infrastructure that the government has put in a decent
amount of work on," Mhangami said. "The subsidization and insurance were
the guardians of the millions of jobs and assets the government had
created for the people."
observation in a village clinic corresponded with Mhangami's comments.
Chick learned that on average, villagers from impoverished households
can have 95 percent of their total medical costs reimbursed. Local
residents infected with COVID-19 can also have free treatment.
memorable moment for Mhangami in the primary school was when he asked
the students about their future aspirations, one of them raised his hand
and replied that he wanted to study abroad.
"Poverty is ultimately a conversation about options," Mhangami commented.
a child who only five years prior would have seen the provincial
capital city as the goal, but now speaks of the international community
as a space for his dreams, poverty has truly been alleviated," he added.
Shaun Nish's point of view, poverty alleviation efforts should not only
cover people's basic needs but also their desire for a better life,
such as internet services.
not be a need, but it can help you a lot. And that's why I think the
Chinese government is very good at doing that because it can help you to
fulfill your wants like TV, the internet and online shopping," Shaun
INTERACTIONS AND JOINT EFFORTS
the trip, the group saw how the locals were enthusiastically working
together with the government to improve their own lives.
Jian, a young villager who now runs a distribution center for express
deliveries, shared his entrepreneurial story with Chick.
store opened in 2017. He borrowed money from the bank and his relatives
and was given a financial grant from the government.
is 10,000 yuan seed money as opposed to 300,000 yuan in personal loans.
That actually shows you how much he wants to get this business going,"
In his conversation with
the owner of a village inn where he stayed, Shaun Nish was told that
her family used to be one of the poorest households in the village.
Nevertheless, two years ago, she finally managed to get her own business up and running.
government gave her some money, and she put in three times the amount
the government did," Shaun Nish said. "And now she is doing quite well."
government has been constantly helping local communities and
reevaluating its own work. If something does not work, then they will
change it, he said.
believed that interactions and joint efforts by the people and the
government are crucial to win the battle against poverty.
your government has the political will to engage your people, to make
getting people out of poverty a priority, it makes a massive
difference," he said.
important thing "is to be a part of the people. Make sure you are going
there, asking them what is happening, sitting down with them and having
these conversations. It immediately changes the dynamic," he added.
him, all the genuine laughs and smiles he witnessed on the journey have
said a lot about China's excellent practice in that regard.
was "a laugh that showed confidence in a government that had
prioritized the people in the global battle against poverty," he wrote.