Hancunhe, which used to be a rural village 40 km to the southwest of downtown Beijing, rose to prominence in the past decade, owing to its booming development and rapid urbanization.
Anyone who pays a visit to Hancunhe these days will be impressed by its outward appearance: rows upon rows of modern, stylish residential buildings, wide roads linking neighboring villages and towns, clean environment filled with natural landscape, flowers, lawns, and tracts of forests. Like every modern community in China, it boasts cultural, educational and medical facilities, hi-tech farm and cash production bases, in addition to recreation and hospitality services, such as theater, library, gyms, hotels and catering outlets that offer different cuisines.
Life in Hancunhe is much better off than in the old days, when virtually all the village households lived below the poverty line because of too much labor and too little farmland. The fate of the village was reversed after a decision made by local leadership to mobilize excess farm laborers to work in construction projects in urban areas. From that time, Hancunhe's fortunes improved and common prosperity became a reality. As a result of it, the poor village has been transformed into a typical urban district.
Hancunhe is just one of thousands of villages in rural China, which have benefited from the policy of reform and opening up launched 30 years ago. By shifting surplus labor to non-agricultural sectors, these villages have lifted millions of households out of poverty and greatly improved their local economies, while greatly contributing to China's urbanization process. The latest official statistics had put China's urbanization rate at 44.9 percent by the end of 2007, and one authoritative estimate even predicts that by 2010, the pace will reach almost 50 percent, meaning that there would be more cities and towns would emerge, with the urban population topping the present 590 million.
In keeping with the robust economic growth and industrialization, this rapid process of urbanization is an inevitable and meaningful course that China has taken over the past 30 years. It has not only backed up local economic growth, but also served as an effective way to narrow the income gap between urban and rural regions, for the benefit of farmers in particular, and for the nation as a whole.