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PHOTOS: Path to Prosperity
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  • Dizhengdang, a village in Dulongjiang, gets a new block of residences near the Dulong River
  • (Top) The Gao family--Gao Desheng, Gao Qiongxian and Li Ying (left to right)--at the Dulongjiang Township Elementary School in 1993 and (bottom) at the new Dulongjiang Township Central Elementary School in November 2016
  • (Top) A drawbridge over the Dulong in the 1990s. (Bottom) Today, a rainbow-colored bridge stretches cross the river
  • Top) Kongdang, a village in Dulongjiang, in 1999 and (bottom) in 2016
  • (Top) A physical education class in the Dizhengdang Village Elementary School in 2007. (Bottom) Children play basketball in front of the new Dulongjiang Township Central Elementary School building in November 2016
  • A music class at the Dulongjiang Township Central Elementary School in November 2016
  • Qi Ying sells local specialties to customers via e-commerce marketplaces
  • The Dulongjiang Township Central Hospital
  • Li Jinqiang (left) and Zhang Xiulan play table tennis in front of their farmstay. The business, started in 2014, brings in 50,000 yuan ($7,222) annually for the couple
  • The Gao family--Gao Qiongxian, Gao Desheng and Li Ying (left to right)--with their relatives in the living room. Gao Qiongxian, a graduate from Beijing-based Minzu University of China, declined job offers in big cities to return home and work there
  • Dai Qie (right), 77, and Li Wenshi, 73, are among the last residents of Dizhengdang to have had their faces tattooed, following the past tradition in the ethnic community. Today, young Dulong women have abandoned the tradition and the number of those who still have the face tattoos is dwindling
  • A new block of residences in Kongdang Village
  • A bird's eye view of Kongdang Village
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Images by Xinhua, edited by Li Nan

Once Dulongjiang was an isolated township in southeast China's Yunnan Province, languishing due to poor transport links and its adverse natural environment.

With a population of just about 4,500 people, it is home to the Dulong, one of China's smallest ethnic groups. The community lived in abject poverty, with an average income of less than 900 yuan ($130) per year a decade ago.

In recent years, both the central and provincial governments have improved the infrastructure of the township, encouraged industries and nurtured skills to improve the living conditions of the local people. Today, the township is no longer inaccessible, thanks to the Dulongjiang Highway that runs through the Gaoligong Mountain, linking residents with the outside world. Their shabby thatched cottages have been replaced by modern residences and all children of school-going age are being educated.

Healthcare has also improved with rural cooperative insurance covering 98 percent of the residents. In 2015, the township's per-capita net income climbed up to 3,503 yuan ($506), which means 1,203 yuan ($174) higher than China's poverty line.

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