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Rags-to-Riches Villagers Pay Tribute to Deng

Residents of Yumin Village in Luohu District gathered Wednesday to commemorate Deng Xiaoping as they moved to new apartment buildings replacing their shoddy village houses.

The former inhabitants of a fishing village have been allocated modern apartments averaging 650 square meters each family, one of the windfalls of Deng's reform and opening-up policy.

They participated in a joint performance in commemoration of Deng's 100th birthday anniversary Wednesday to express their gratitude to Deng and mark Deng's visit to the village Jan. 25, 1984.

In the commemorative activity, the villagers used a series of traditional folk songs and dance programs including yangge dances and lion dances to pay their respects to Deng.

"Yumin Village has been the epitome of Shenzhen's development during the past two decades," a municipal government official said at the ceremony.

Thanks to the reform and opening policy initiated by Deng in 1979, Yumin Village, one of the oldest villages in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, had a splendid history in the 1980s as the first Chinese village with an average household income exceeding 10,000 yuan (US$1,219). The rags-to-riches story of the village attracted Deng to visit in 1984.

The village lagged behind other parts of the city during 1990s due to rampant construction of illegal buildings, which were nicknamed "shake-hand" houses because the houses were built so close together that residents could reach through the window to shake hands with residents of neighboring houses.

However, the village returned to the spotlight in 2001 with a reconstruction project and served as a model in the Action Combing campaign that began in March to rid the city of illegal buildings.

The Yumin Village reconstruction project, which started in 200,1 has replaced the village's shoddy buildings with a new garden housing estate.

(Shenzhen Daily August 19, 2004)

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