CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (5/20/2019 Mon.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (5/20/2019 Mon.)

People's Daily app

00:42, May 20, 2019

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From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

Yan’an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, is no longer labeled "poor," as its last two impoverished counties have shaken off poverty, the Shaanxi provincial government announced Tuesday May 7, 2019. 

Yan'an was home to the headquarters of the CPC and was the center of the Communist revolution from 1935 to 1948. It now has more than 350 sites related to the Chinese revolution. 

The counties of Yanchuan and Yichuan, with a population of 192,000 and 120,000 respectively and both located along the western bank of the Yellow River, have limited fertile valley fields.  

American journalist Edgar Snow wrote in his 1937 book Red Star over China that the area was "one of the poorest parts of China" he had seen. 

According to the provincial poverty relief office, poverty-stricken residents in the Yanchuan and Yichuan now only account for 1.06 and 0.58 percent respectively of their populations. 

Today’s Story in the Story looks at how China’s iconic revolutionary base sheds poverty label.

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The former residence of an "educated youth" in Liangjiahe village, Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Photo: IC)

An investment of 6.25 billion yuan ($920 million) from the central and local governments has been poured into Yan'an over the past four years. 

To ensure that every household could get rid of poverty, the city has sent a total of 1,784 Party chiefs, 1,546 working teams and 37,400 officials to live in the villages to help with poverty alleviation. 

Located in the hinterland of the Loess Plateau, where 258 million tons of mud and sand were once washed into the Yellow River each year, Yan'an used to be vulnerable to drought and floods. 

The adverse environment and poor industrial foundation also instilled in locals the importance of environmental protection.

About 40 kilometers south of the city center, Nanniwan township is famous for a large-scale production campaign mobilized by Mao Zedong in the 1940s, who urged the adoption of a revolutionary spirit to turn uncultivated land into farms. The goal was to become self-reliant in grain.

Hou Xiuzhen, 73, witnessed the great changes to the town over the past half-century.

"In the 1950s, the hills were covered by farms instead of trees. But we had meager grain yields because of the barren soil and arid climate," Hou said.

With government subsidies, Hou led her villagers to plant trees in the surrounding hills in 1999. Thanks to two decades of reforestation, Nanniwan now has a new look, with all the surrounding mountains covered with green trees in late spring.

Mashuping, a cliff village on the Yellow River bank, was one of the poorest villages in Yichuan county.

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A villager picks apples at an orchard in Taiquan village, Yichuan county of Yan'an. (Photo: Xinhua)

Now, a north-south highway stretching 828.5 km along the west bank of the Yellow, has contributed to poverty alleviation.

Until the completion of a road, Fu Changhong from a registered poor household in Mashuping had never been to the renowned Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River, only 30 kilometers away from his village. 

"In the past, we had no ways to go out of the village but a narrow meandering footpath," Fu said. "I used to look at the Yellow River and thought how nice if it were a road." 

About 20 years ago, local villagers started to grow Sichuan pepper trees, seeds of which are a popular seasoning found in Sichuan cuisine. But they had to sell the farm produce at very low prices to dealers who came by motorbikes.

"With the highway, we can sell peppers to factories directly at much better prices," said Fu. 

Training impoverished people and offering them suitable jobs is one of the measures Yan'an has come up with. Though the nearest sea is more than 1,000 kilometers away, Yan'an is proud of its sailor education. 

Nearly 2,000 sailors have graduated from Yan'an Vocational and Technical College over the past decade. 

Poorly educated, Yang Yufan saw no future, until he was enrolled in a four-month vocational training course as a sailor at the college.

After graduation, he got a job on a cargo ship in Southeast Asia. 

The city government has also cut tuition fees to encourage more people from poor households to participate in various vocational training, according to Yang. 

Yan'an will continue to help the remaining impoverished people shake off poverty, and strive to enter a moderately prosperous society in all respects with the rest of the country by 2020, said Xu Xinrong, Party chief of the city.

(Produced by Nancu Yan Xu, Chelle Wenqian Zeng, Lance Crayon, and Brian Lowe. Music by: bensound.com. Text from Global Times and China Daily.) 

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