RELOCATING FROM ‘PAR­ADISE’

China Daily European Weekly - - Big Picture - Tie ri zi wo zi, XINHUA

Shep­herds agree to leave their moun­tain re­treat as the gov­ern­ment at­tempts to lift them out of poverty with new hous­ing

Ev­ery June and July, shep­herds liv­ing in the vil­lage of Kraz Tasha at the foot of Muz­tage Peak on the Pamir Plateau in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­tonomous re­gion travel across deep val­leys along the an­cient Silk Road to a moun­tain re­treat.

The Pamir Plateau, called Congling in an­cient China, is 3,000 me­ters above sea level, but the shep­herds’ “par­adise” is at an al­ti­tude of 4,100 me­ters and is called or Sum­mer Ranch.

Af­ter a 10-hour trek, the herds­men ar­rive at their des­ti­na­tion, where the green grass looks like a blan­ket on a hill­side.

How­ever, the fairy­land has no elec­tric­ity, no in­ter­net and no cell­phone sig­nal.

Most of the herds­men have an an­nual in­come of less than 2,500 yuan ($375; 315 eu­ros; £290). So, in or­der to al­le­vi­ate their hard­ship, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­cided that by 2020, all of the poverty-rid­den house­holds will be re­lo­cated to Ake­tao county.

There, they will be pro­vided with free hous­ing and veg­etable green­houses.

Although the vil­lagers love their moun­tain re­treat, they sup­port the re­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sion.

“We have sur­vived in a such a harsh en­vi­ron­ment. So we should be able to adapt when we come down from the moun­tains to a com­pletely new life,” one 30-year-old vil­lager says.

PHOTOS BY JIANG WENYAO / XINHUA

A group photo of the herds­men at the sum­mer ranch. For most of them, it is the first time they have been pho­tographed.

Herds­men walk along the trail of a steep gulf.

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