Having been born and raised in a small town deep in the Dabie Mountains in Anhui province, I have seen how China's poverty relief campaign has led to further development in the countryside and satisfaction among local people who have begun to live better in the past five years.
Since 2012 when the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was convened, a new express highway linking Jinan in Shandong province to Guangzhou in Guangdong province has opened. It connects my hometown in Yuexi county with other major cities in less-developed Anhui.
Yuexi had not developed many industries, partly because of its backward transportation, but it has clean air and water, which are increasingly considered precious by residents from regions burdened by industrial pollution. The new highway has shortened travel time between the county seat and the provincial capital of Hefei by two-thirds to only two hours. As travel became convenient, tourism started to boom as new tourism sites opened.
During holidays, some of my relatives are too busy to even pick up their phones. Their restaurants are packed with visitors who speak different dialects from all over the province or from more distant locations such as Shaanxi or Gansu provinces.
The Dabie Mountains are one of 14 key cluster areas in the country's campaign to relieve poverty. In April of last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Jinzhai county near Yuexi and pledged further support in medical care and other fields.
The express highway is just one of the infrastructure projects in the targeted poverty alleviation financed by the central and local governments. The campaign has made many changes in the local economy and locals' way of life.
Zheng Peng, in his 40s, was also born in Yuexi and has been working for a bank in Beijing for over a decade. He noticed the difference during a trip back home during the National Day holiday early this month.
"During a stay of several days in my hometown, I was shocked to see the profound changes in rural areas and how farmers were better off," Zheng said.
Backed by government funds, each village has planted new trees and flowers along major roads and trash cans are used to collect garbage, he said.
A new system was established to dispose of sewage and animal dung. New houses have been built with indoor plumbing. These facilities are far better than the dwellings built with less government support in the 1970s and 1980s, he said.
Zheng said the younger generation of farmers is even more fashion conscious than their predecessors. Many ride a motorcycle to their farmland and drive a car to shopping malls wearing trendy garments.
This has not escaped the notice of foreigners. At a media reception on Monday, several foreign journalists said they would pay special attention to China's poverty alleviation while covering the 19th CPC National Congress. Among them was Kajubi Mukajanga, executive secretary of the Media Council of Tanzania. He said China's endeavors to relieve poverty have become a more effective way to improve the livelihood of the Chinese people.
(China Daily 10/21/2017 page 2)