RELOCATING TO A BETTER LIFE
Guizhou resettles its impoverished people in areas with better conditions By Helena Wang
For decades, 48-year-old Ye Peng resided in a remote and poverty-stricken village in Caiguan Town in Guizhou Province. Deep in the mountains, in Guankou village, he led a simple life, supported by corn planting. Life, already hard enough, took a downward turn about a decade ago when his wife fell seriously ill. With medical bills to foot and two school-aged children to support, the family plunged into dire poverty.
Nonetheless, a turnaround in his fortune took place this year. In April, he and his family moved into a newly furnished apartment in Caiguan Town, at no cost, under a poverty alleviation relocation program, Ye told Beijing Review. In addition to a new home, Ye was also offered a job as a security guard in the town, earning 1,500 yuan ($227.9) per month.
Speaking of his new life, Ye said “Life is convenient. Shops and a drug store are right across the street.” The neighborhood for resettled residents boasts a number of modern amenities. A recreation area for children, with colorful images of the Monkey King and dragons, is located at the end of the street. A spacious and well-furnished afterschool care center offers children free services, and seniors can entertain themselves at a seniors’ activity center next door to the afterschool care center.
Guizhou is a mountainous province whose hills account for more than 92 percent of its total area. Many impoverished people in the province live in areas with inhospitable natural conditions.
During the period of the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), Guizhou plans to relocate more than 1.6 million people, or nearly one third of all impoverished people in the province, out of areas where the environment can no longer support them. In 2016, 458,000 people were already relocated, according to the Poverty Alleviation and Development Office of Guizhou Province.
The relocation is voluntary, said Xu Min, an official with the Guizhou Provincial Government. Leaflets have been distributed to farmers to in- form them of relevant supportive government policies.
The government’s subsidies vary according to the conditions of individual cases. Each person in a relocated impoverished household with income below the poverty line can receive a relocation subsidy of 20,000 yuan ($3,040), while each person in households above the poverty line can receive 12,000 yuan ($1,823). In addition, those who have signed a relocation and housing demolition agreement, under which their land will be reclaimed for farming, will receive a reward of 15,000 yuan ($2,280). Relocated residents can lease their farmland out. The government will provide free housing for extremely poor households, while the property rights of such homes are retained by the government.
Xu Caicai, a 20-year-old woman and her younger brother, Xu Yajun, have been offered free housing in the resettlement neighborhood in Caiguan Town. Xu just graduated from a vocational school and is looking for a job. Her younger brother is still in school. Xu’s father is disabled, and her mother works in an aluminum factory in Shanghai. Financial commitments such as school tuition costs strained the family’s finances.
They moved into the new apartment this March, and their mother plans to join them later this year and take a job at a factory on the ground floor of their apartment building. Previously, the family could only get together once a year.
Working close to home
The ground floors of the resettlement buildings in Xu’s neighborhood house a police station, a drug store, shops and factories. Some resettled residents work right under their apartments.
Forty-four-year-old Xu Daijun is employed at a glove-making factory just a stone’s-throw from her home, making 2,000 yuan ($394) per month. Her husband, disabled by an injury he sustained while working in a coal mine, stays
Workers make gloves in a factory in the resettlement area in Caiguan Town, Guizhou Province, on September 8