The Qianhuyizhai resettlement area in Liupanshui (DONG FANG)
Xiushui Village looks exactly like one would imagine an "ancient town" in south China to appear, with log cabins lining both sides of a stream and boulders jutting out of river banks. Nonetheless, its facilities are brand new, as the village has been rebuilt in recent years to develop tourism and alleviate poverty.
Located among the mountains in Puding County under the jurisdiction of Anshun City, Guizhou Province, the village has 3,823 residents in 1,165 households. Grain plantation and labor outsourcing used to be villagers' major sources of income. In 2014, it had 453 households living under the national poverty line.
The Liangdufeng Chicken Farm in Qinglin Township in Liupanshui, Guizhou Province (DONG FANG)
But with help from the Xingwei Group, a private company, villagers have grown vegetables, planted nut trees and developed tourism in order to free themselves from destitution.
These efforts have paid off. "Before 2014, the average annual per-capita net income of villagers was a little more than 2,000 yuan ($305). It increased to 18,000 yuan ($2,748) in 2016," said Zhang Kezhi, Secretary of the Xiushui Village Branch of the Communist Party of China. From 2014 to 2016, 295 households moved out of poverty.
Lu Qianqian, a 20-year-old resident in the village, told Beijing Review about the changes that have taken place in her hometown.
Women of the Bouyei ethnic group pick kiwifruits at an Miluo Township orchard in Liupanshui City on September 10 (COURTESY PHOTO)
"The villagers used to live in thatched cottages. We ate cornmeal and pickles, rarely meat. On rainy days, the road was slippery and difficult to walk on. But they are all things of the past now," Lu said. She is confident that life will be better in the future.
Xingwei Group, founded in 1999 and headquartered in Anshun, operates in many places throughout the country. The group's founder and Chairman, Wang Wei, comes from Xiushui and wants to do something for his fellow villagers. After a careful study of the village's conditions, he decided to develop eco-agriculture and tourism there.
Zhang said Xingwei has invested 370 million yuan ($56.49 million) in Xiushui, paving roads, reconstructing houses and building tourism facilities, all for free. Tourists can now take part in a variety of outdoor activities such as camping, rafting, horse riding and karting in the village, in addition to enjoying the natural scenery.
The company has not only provided funds, but also dispatched a management team to Xiushui and delivered training to villagers.
What the company has done in Xiushui is out of a sense of social responsibility, said Zhang Zhuyu, Assistant Chairman of Xingwei.
Workers make gloves in a factory in the resettlement area in Caiguan Town, Guizhou Province, on September 8 (WANG HAIRONG)
In 2015, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and the China Society for the Promotion of the Guangcai Program jointly made a call for enterprises to help impoverished households out of their dire situation.
"The poverty alleviation initiative is not a burden but a development window for private companies," Zhang Zhuyu said. Business people should combine their interests with those of the general public, he added.
He also believes that it is an opportunity to align enterprises' sustainable development with poverty alleviation. Xingwei is adjusting its business mix, shifting its focus to culture, tourism and healthcare, according to Zhang Zhuyu.
By helping Xiushui, Xingwei would like to set an example to inspire others to help poor households, Zhang Zhuyu stressed. Now, many private companies have taken part in targeted poverty alleviation efforts and achieved remarkable results, he said.
Zhang Zhuyu, Assistant Chairman of Xinwei Group, briefs reporters of what the company has done to help Xiushui Village on September 9 (WANG HAIRONG)
As of the end of 2016, 26,500 enterprises across the country had participated in targeted poverty alleviation, benefiting 3.88 million impoverished people, said Wang Qinmin, Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, at a seminar held in Guizhou's Zhijin County in May.
Those businesses had invested 38.3 billion yuan ($5.85 billion) in production and 8.3 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) in charity. They had created 307,600 jobs and trained 316,300 people, Wang said.
While carrying out poverty alleviation in Xiushui, Xingwei has sought villagers' support and understanding and engaged them in the development process, Zhang Zhuyu said. To motivate villagers, it allotted stakes in the village's tourism company in the following way: 10 percent on a per-capita basis; 30 percent by the size of the land villagers pooled; 30 percent by labor input; 5 percent to seniors above 65; and the remaining 25 percent to assistance for college students from poor families and villagers victimized by natural disasters and serious diseases, as well as the expansion of the tourism company.
On September 21, an official (first front) from Fengpu Township of Ningde, Fujian Province, prepares red couplets with a family who had just moved to a new resettlement house thanks to poverty-relief efforts from the local government (XINHUA)
In the past, one third of Xiushui's villagers worked in other places as migrant workers, but now almost all of them have returned, according to Zhang Zhuyu.
"Villagers' living conditions have improved, and more importantly, their mindset has changed," he said, adding that they have realized that they could aspire to a better life. n
Copyedited by Bryan Michael Galvan
Comments to email@example.com