RE­LO­CAT­ING TO A BET­TER LIFE

Guizhou re­set­tles its im­pov­er­ished peo­ple in ar­eas with bet­ter con­di­tions By He­lena Wang

Beijing Review - - Cover Story -

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.

Set­tled down

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

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