Grass-roots deputy transforms village to attract urbanites

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 8, 2018
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China's agriculture minister Han Changfu on Wednesday painted a blueprint for the rural areas which encompasses "promising and lucrative agri-businesses," "a beautiful countryside," and "well-off farmers."

An aerial photo of Dajidian village in north China's Hebei province [Photo courtesy of Dajidian village]

For some, this picture may not be that far off.

Zhang Donghe, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) and CPC Party chief of Dajidian village in north China's Hebei province, told that his hometown has already become an attractive place for urban citizens, just as Han described.

During weekends or holidays, hundreds or thousands of city dwellers arrive in the small ancient village for a taste of nature while enjoying all of the convenience of a city.

Located in the southwestern suburb of Baoding prefecture, Dajidian is well-known for its clean environment, charming landscape, lucrative businesses, and diverse cultural activities and well-off farmers.

In 2012, the entrepreneur-turned village chief quit his post as head of a paper-making factory to fully dive into the affairs of the village.

He encourages his fellow villagers to start businesses and grow them into companies of large scale production.

There are three companies in the village, which share out their year-end dividends and provide over 1,000 jobs for the locals, Zhang said. "Many villagers have moved into our newly-built apartments and turned their former homes into guesthouses, restaurants, recreational centers or nurseries to gain some additional income besides farming."

According to figures released by the village, the per capita annual disposable income of residents in Dajidian has reached 26,000 yuan (US$4,107.68), compared to the national level of 13,432 yuan.

With an emphasis on traditional culture and craftsmanship, Zhang and his colleagues also initiated a cultural creative program to combine an experience center, traditional craft work display, product retail and tourism to advance Dajidian's brand as a historical ancient village with an appeal to nearby visitors.

As locals' income increasing, more young villagers are choosing to return after graduating from college. Among 13 cadres in the village committee, three are college graduates.

In 2016, the village even hosted an international music festival attracting musical artists from China as well as eight other countries.

Featuring concerts, craftsman's fair, world cuisine and an intangible cultural heritage display, the festival has been held three times attracting music groups from 30 countries and regions and hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Speaking of China's drive to achieve a moderately prosperous society by 2020, the deputy said that people's well-being is not only counted financially, but culturally and ecologically.

"We'll keep working to reach people's ever-growing needs for a better life."

In this year's government work report, Premier Li Keqiang vows to fight poverty and support rural revitalization.

When asked about the national craze in building characteristic towns in rural areas, Zhang suggests that "characteristic" is the core element in developing such towns. "The key is to identify each of their characteristics, put them on show and avoid homogeneous competition."

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