Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  China News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Model village shows cracks in Xi's fight to end China poverty
By Ben Dooley
Lankao, China (AFP) Oct 12, 2017

When President Xi Jinping last came to central China's Lankao county, it was famous for two things: poverty and the government official who reputedly died trying to end it.

Three years later, the hardscrabble area has undergone a Cinderella-like transformation, waltzing across the national poverty line just in time for the Communist Party's twice-a-decade congress on October 18.

With its freshly paved roads, modern community centre and memorial to Xi's visit, Lankao's Zhangzhuang village has become a showpiece for the president's ambitious and politically critical campaign to wipe out rural poverty by 2020.

But a drastically different picture emerges on the outskirts, where farmers still live in ramshackle homes and move along rutted lanes.

The contrast highlights the difficulty of spreading the wealth of the world's second-largest economy, a central mission for Xi as he prepares to accept a second five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party.

Success is crucial for the credibility of the party, which came to power promising a radical redistribution of the nation's wealth, and would help solidify Xi's stature as the most powerful leader in decades.

- 'A bubble economy' -

In the three years since Xi's visit, Lankao's official poverty rate dropped from 12 percent to under two, making it just the second county to be removed from a national registry of almost 600 poor areas.

Officials attribute the success to better directed aid and low-interest micro-loans that have helped needy families increase their income by buying livestock and farming equipment.

But Xi also took personal responsibility for the area of more than 760,000 in 2014 as part of a programme that paired top party leaders with local governments.

He chose Lankao -- and Zhangzhuang specifically -- for its association with Jiao Yulu, an official who became a national hero after famously working himself to death helping farmers eke out a living along along the flood-prone Yellow River five decades ago.

The president's visit "gave us encouragement and inspiration," said local official Wang Qifu, speaking by a massive monument to Jiao in the bustling county seat. After the leader came, "doing poorly wouldn't do."

But life in Xi's dream village is surrounded by another reality.

While everyone agrees Lankao has changed enormously since Xi's visits in March and May 2014, those on Zhangzhuang's outskirts complain the gains have not been equitable.

The backs of houses along the road to the village have been whitewashed to give the appearance of wealth, but on the other side, narrow, muddy streets run past homes with broken windows and crumbling bricks.

"We haven't seen any changes here," said one elderly woman, a farmer who declined to give her name.

"The people with connections to the village government have all shaken off poverty. Those without connections haven't."

Many residents still feel poor, complaining there is little money in farming and earning more means moving to urban areas.

To tackle the problem, the county has encouraged cooperatives to grow more profitable crops such as melons, established industrial parks, and also dedicated several large memorials to Jiao -- and its own Xi-fuelled success -- hoping "red tourism" will create much-needed jobs.

A busload of foreign ministry employees sporting Communist Party lapel pins recently made the pilgrimage, stopping at Jiao's memorial hall and a village that has prospered by making traditional Chinese instruments.

In May, 27-year-old Peng Biao -- a village official -- and his wife turned their family home near the Yellow River into a small, stylish restaurant, hoping to cash in on the tourism boom.

Three dishes cost about 40 yuan ($6.50), almost a week's income for one of the 23 households still on the village's poverty list.

Lankao has made good progress, Peng said, but if the county cannot create more jobs "it's just a bubble economy. On the surface, people may seem well-off, but actually, they won't have even a single yuan in their wallet."

- 'A bottleneck' -

Ahead of the party congress, state media have heavily promoted the "Lankao Model" and the "Jiao Yulu spirit" to combat poverty.

According to official figures, around 700 million have escaped poverty since China began its economic reforms in 1978.

But the gap between rich and poor "has become quite alarming" for Beijing, said Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese leadership at Washington's Brookings Institution.

"The whole thing about China's economic rise is you see the economic disparity has become a bottleneck."

In 2016, around 43.3 million rural residents still lived below the country's official poverty line of 2,300 yuan ($346) a year at 2010 prices, according to official statistics.

The threshold changes based on location but Lankao's $460 is still well below the $694 that the World Bank considers "extreme poverty".

Achieving Xi's goal of "moderate prosperity" by 2020 could prove difficult even for a county that has benefited from the president's support.

"In other places, it might not be a big problem, but we just shook off poverty," Wang said, "our foundation is pretty bad."

Hong Kongers must stand up for China, says leader Lam
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 11, 2017
Hong Kongers have a duty to stand up for China over threats to its sovereignty, the territory's leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday, months after Beijing warned against any challenge to its control over the semi-autonomous city. Lam, making her first policy address since she came to power earlier this year, skirted the subject of political reform as the city's pro-democracy forces contend with ... read more

Related Links
China News from

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

China launches three satellites

Mars probe to carry 13 types of payload on 2020 mission

UN official commends China's role in space cooperation

China's cargo spacecraft separates from Tiangong-2 space lab

Outsiders challenge Chicago school for Nobel economics prize

Researchers look for ancient trade routes at the bottom of the Mediterranean

EU targets China with tough rules on cheap imports

Chinese manufacturing accelerates for second straight month

Trump makes cryptic 'calm before the storm' remark

Philippines hails US as top ally, welcomes war games

Hong Kong lawmaker guilty of desecrating Chinese flag

Trump accepts Duterte's ASEAN summit invite after all

Japan government, TEPCO liable for Fukushima crisis: court

New 'molecular trap' cleans more radioactive waste from nuclear fuel rods

French, Belgian nuke plants vulnerable to attack: Greenpeace

Largest Nuclear Training Center In France Opens Its Doors

Ransomware attacks 'global epidemic', says Europol

Twitter reveals Russia-backed ads ahead of US election

China fines tech firms over online content

Chelsea Manning barred from entering Canada

Japan government, TEPCO liable for Fukushima crisis: court

New 'molecular trap' cleans more radioactive waste from nuclear fuel rods

French, Belgian nuke plants vulnerable to attack: Greenpeace

Largest Nuclear Training Center In France Opens Its Doors

OX2 hands over Ajos wind farm to IKEA Finland

Wind farms in Atlantic could power the world: study

Germany gets economic lift with wind energy

French energy company to build wind power sector in India

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement