A deputy from a cliff village: We enjoy the tangible outcomes of rural revitalization
By Lu Yan  ·  2023-03-10  ·   Source: Web Exclusive


Gulu Village in Sichuan Province (COURTESY PHOTO) 

Over recent years, Zheng Wangchun, head of Gulu Village in Sichuan Province, and his hundreds of fellow villagers have witnessed and benefited from China’s rural revitalization strategy. He is sharing the story of his village this week as a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), underway in Beijing from March 5 to 13.  

In the past, the village, located atop a cliff about 800 meters from ground and 1,400 meters above sea level, could not be accessed by road. To reach the nearest other village, Gulu’s residents needed to climb down from their own mountaintop, cross the roaring Dadu River below, and climb to the top of the neighboring mountain. 

“Our life was very hard: We used to climb down from the village using ladders and holding onto vines and then climb up the other side,” Zheng told Beijing Review. In 2003, the village built a narrow path, less than one meter wide, which made the trip less perilous but it still took villagers more than three hours to make the crossing. In 2018, as part of the country’s poverty alleviation and rural revitalization drive, a 750-meter cableway was built to access the village. Since then, it has taken the villagers only a few minutes to cross. Additionally, every household can now access tap water, electricity and network signals. 

With life becoming more convenient, Gulu’s people can explore the outside world and increase their incomes. In addition to traditional farming, the village is also developing tourism. The long cableway, the natural scenery, and local Yi ethnic customs and traditions in this village, which has a history of over 400 years, have attracted tourists from across the country.  


Zheng Wangchun (right), a deputy to the 14th National People’s Congress from Sichuan Province and Secretary of the Gulu Village branch of the Communist Party of China, talks to a villager in Gulu Village, Sichuan Province, on February 14 (XINHUA)   

In 2013, China proposed the concept of targeted poverty alleviation, that is, giving differentiated guidance and assistance to poverty-stricken people in line with local conditions. More government support has since been given to villages like Gulu. “Before 2013, the annual per capita income of our villagers was less than 2,000 yuan ($287), while now it exceeds 10,000 yuan ($1,435), with more infrastructure in place and more industries developed,” Zheng said. 

“Previously, many young people in Gulu left their homes to work in large cities to make a living. Now, more of them are willing to come back to live because they can earn more money right at their doorsteps,” he added.  

Thanks to the country and its people’s continued efforts, close to 100 million poor rural residents and a total of 832 impoverished counties have risen above poverty, including more than 9.6 million poverty-stricken people relocated out of inhospitable areas. China has, once and for all, resolved the problem of absolute poverty.  

Zheng became the secretary of the Gulu Village branch of the Communist Party of China three years ago. This year, he was elected, for the first time, as a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC). He is excited about sharing the story of Gulu with deputies from all around the country during this year’s NPC session. More importantly, he has a mission—to express villagers’ concerns and hopes to the session as a national lawmaker. He has suggested increasing the special funds for infrastructure construction and the development of industries in remote areas and ethnic minority areas, helping rural development and the expansion of industry, increasing employment and encouraging entrepreneurship, so that more villages will become prosperous. 

Zheng was especially impressed by this year’s government work report, as it says rural industries with distinctive local features should be fostered to create more channels for increasing rural incomes.  

“Our achievements in poverty alleviation should be consolidated and expanded to prevent large-scale relapse into poverty. Rural development initiatives should be advanced. We must meticulously and effectively carry out work related to the extension of rural land contracts for an additional 30 years,” the report says. 

Zheng said Gulu will follow the country’s policies to consolidate and build on the achievements in poverty alleviation and to continue to promote revitalization. “We will upgrade our services and products for tourists, catering to different needs and improving their travel experience,” he said. For example, the village will improve the packaging and quality of its distinctive agricultural products, which include cured meat, walnuts and honey. It will also host festivals or activities for visitors to experience the traditional culture of Yi ethnic people, such as colorful clothes, unique music and dances, as well as delicate embroidery. 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson   

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