After four years in the formerly poverty-stricken village of
Chenxiaozhai, Liu Yuan says he will probably leave but will always
cherish his experiences there.
In April 2017, the now 54-year-old Liu was one of 753 officials
dispatched to hundreds of key villages in East China's Anhui province to
work on poverty relief.
Formerly attached to the publicity department of the CPC's Fuyang
city committee, Liu was appointed first Party secretary－a Party member
deployed by higher authorities usually to oversee poverty relief work－of
the village, which is in southern Linquan county, and he has been
working to meet his goal ever since.
With a population of over 2.3 million according to the hukou, or
household registration system, Linquan is China's most heavily populated
county and was one of its most impoverished areas.
"About half the 6,900 villagers have migrated to cities for work,"
said Liu, adding that nearby Fuyang, which has a population of over 10
million, is famous as a source of migrant workers.
Before arriving in Chenxiaozhai, the new secretary was told that 112
villagers were classified as poverty-stricken and would be treated as a
According to China's national definition of poverty at the time, the
classification referred to anyone with an annual income of less than
2,855 yuan ($443).
"Poverty relief is not simply about increasing incomes, it's also
about creating a better environment to ensure improvements will last,"
He said that he will never forget the sight that greeted him when he first arrived in Chenxiaozhai on April 28, 2017.
Infrastructure, like paved roads, was nearly nonexistent, and the
offices of those responsible for the part-time administration of the
village were located in an abandoned primary school.
"The most important, and the most difficult thing, was not telling
the government that a village needs money, it was deciding how to spend
the money on the right things," he continued.
Since then, he has helped Chenxiaozhai secure millions of yuan from
the government to improve infrastructure, and he says that there are now
paved roads leading to every household.