Pei Chunliang, Secretary of the Peizhai Community General Branch of the Communist Party of China (QIN BIN)
A brightly lit, two-story shop on the business street of Peizhai Community in central China's Henan Province is lined with racks full of neatly arranged goods. The first floor features products for mothers and children while the second floor boasts a swimming pool for babies. The shop is owned by Pei Longhui, who returned to the village after working in south China.
"Now I can make at least 150,000 yuan ($21,757) a year, which is several times what I made while working on ships in southern China," Pei said.
There are more than 600 such shops on the street. The area, once a stretch of rural wasteland, is now full of tall buildings. There are villas, a primary school, a basketball court, a plaza, and other amenities that one can find in cities.
Peizhai has undergone tremendous change in recent years, thanks to one man--Pei Chunliang, Secretary of the Peizhai Community General Branch of the Communist Party of China.
A self-made man
Pei Chunliang had to drop out of school at the age of 13 because of poverty. After working several jobs, he decided to learn how to cut hair at a barber's shop to make a living.
But he did not stop there. After learning that some out-of-town merchants who had come to the village to buy walnuts and hawthorns could not find a place to eat, he rented a house, opened a restaurant, and started selling stewed noodles. His noodles sold well and he invested his saving in a bigger restaurant, hiring more than 20 people. His life finally began improving.
Pei Chunliang always kept an eye out for business opportunities. He would carry a pen and a notebook with him everywhere he went, jotting down all the useful things he saw, even advertisements stuck on electric posts. In this way, he found many business opportunities unnoticed by others.
From the customers eating at his restaurant, he heard that selling marble in Beijing and Shanghai was a lucrative business. That inspired the ambitious Pei Chunliang, and leaving the restaurant under his fiancee's care, he went to Beijing to sell marble.
In Beijing, Pei Chunliang zipped around the city on a bike day after day to peddle marble. He made a fortune, amassing as much as 90,000 yuan ($12,980) from one order.
After returning to his hometown from Beijing, he partnered with his friends to buy mines and began trading. His businesses grew bigger and bigger. He became a successful entrepreneur, whose businesses included hotels, casting services, mining and cement production.
Repaying the village
In 2005, the villagers of Peizhai, led by their former leader, came to see Pei Chunliang, urging him to return to the village and be its new chief. Mindful of the favors he owed them, he agreed.
On returning to the mountain village as its new leader, Pei Chunliang put it onto a fast growth track. He invested nearly 90 million yuan ($12.98 million) out of his own pocket to build villas, farmland ponds and a reservoir, improving villagers' lives and addressing the acute drinking water shortage the village had suffered for generations.
Guided by Pei Chunliang, villagers built greenhouses, grew organic vegetables, and engaged in other forms of high-efficiency agriculture. A commercial street was developed, providing a vending platform for business owners. This spurred the development of the service industry.
In 2016, Pei Chunliang invested 80 million yuan ($11.6 million) in residential buildings to accommodate people who were being relocated to Peizhai from two villages 60 km away.
Today, Peizhai has shaken off poverty. Local residents' per-capita annual income increased from just 1,000 yuan ($144) in 2005 to $11,000 yuan ($1,588) in 2015. Peizhai has been enriched by cultural, sport and entertainment facilities so that villagers can enjoy urban amenities. Its official name has been changed to Peizhai Community.