Yan'an, iconic revolutionary base, bids adieu to poverty with government assistance

2019-05-08 10:57:17 , Source : Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on April 24, 2019 shows the newly-built dwellings and a school in Wen'anyi town, Yanchuan county of Yan'an city. [Photo/Xinhua]

XI'AN - Yan'an, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China, is no longer labeled "poor", as its final two impoverished counties have shaken off poverty, the Shaanxi provincial government announced on Tuesday.

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.

President Xi Jinping has stressed the need to end poverty in old revolutionary base areas and to improve local people's standard of living. Xi said a well-off society is incomplete if people in old revolutionary base areas cannot shake off poverty.

The counties of Yanchuan and Yichuan, with populations of 192,000 and 120,000 respectively, located along the Yellow River, have limited fertile land. Villagers had been plagued by poverty for decades.

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.

The city has sent 1,784 Party chiefs, 1,546 working teams and 37,400 cadres to live in the villages to help with poverty alleviation.

A total of 693 impoverished villages in the city have shaken off poverty.

Improved environment and infrastructure, a booming agricultural economy, increasingly affordable education and healthcare and multiple career choices for rural residents have rejuvenated the city.


Photo taken on April 23, 2019 shows a view of the Yan'an New District in Yan'an. [Photo/Xinhua]

Greener city

Located in the hinterlands of the Loess Plateau, Yan'an was once 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.

As the daughter-in-law of a veteran of a brigade of the Chinese Eighth Route Army, which led the campaign at that time, Hou and her husband continued to work the fields cultivated by the brigade after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

"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.

Aerial photo taken on July 13, 2017 shows a highway along the Yellow River near Mashuping village in Yichuan county of Yan'an. [Photo/Xinhua]

Road to fortune

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

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

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

Wang Ruixin, Party chief of Liuwantou village, which administers Mashuping, said the per capita income of the village was 10,300 yuan last year, much higher than the national poverty line of around 3,000 yuan.

The highway also provides new possibilities for apple growers, who can sell to overseas markets via e-commerce.

Feng Tianxing, 56, from Yichuan's Chunqu village, said the county government sent cadres to help sell apples via online shops.

In 2018, revenue from apples accounted for half the disposable income of the city's rural residents per capita.

Feng made more than 20,000 yuan last year by growing apples. "Apples have been sold out when they were still green hanging on the trees," said Feng.

Though the nearest sea is more than 1,000 km away, Yan'an is proud of its maritime education. Nearly 2,000 sailors have graduated from Yan'an Vocational and Technical College over the past decade.

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