Vil­lage holds true to com­mu­nist dream

Nan­jie chief cred­its col­lec­tive econ­omy, strong lead­er­ship for 2 bil­lion yuan in sales rev­enue

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CAO KAI and GUI JUAN Xin­hua

Wang Hong­bin, 65, has an as­ton­ish­ing am­bi­tion: To build a com­mu­nist com­mu­nity that dis­trib­utes goods and ser­vices ac­cord­ing to one’s needs, a goal of com­mu­nism once pro­posed by Karl Marx.

Wang, sec­re­tary of Nan­jie vil­lage Party com­mit­tee since 1977, has ev­ery in­ten­tion of turn­ing his dream into a re­al­ity.

A 16-story apart­ment build­ing stands in the cor­ner of his vil­lage in Cen­tral China’s He­nan prov­ince. It cost 200 mil­lion yuan ($29 mil­lion) to con­struct, and work on the in­te­rior is ex­pected to be­gin next year. It should be com­pleted in 2018.

“If you want to move into the ‘pro­le­tar­ian apart­ments’, all you have to do is hand over ev­ery­thing you own,” Wang said.

The build­ing can ac­com­mo­date 800 vil­lagers, and a round-the-clock can­teen will pro­vide all the food the res­i­dents need. Clothes, shoes, cos­met­ics and even jew­elry will be shared, af­ter ster­il­iza­tion.

“We will choose top brands and meet ev­ery­one’s per­sonal needs,” said Wang, who has plans to ac­com­mo­date all of Nan­jie’s 3,700 vil­lagers within 10 years.

In many ways, Nan­jie is more like an in­dus­trial park than a vil­lage. Most young peo­ple in China can­not wait to get away from home and work in cities, but here 26 vil­lage busi­nesses em­ploy ev­ery­one who wants a job.

The vil­lage has just 33 hectares of arable land, nowhere near enough to feed the vil­lagers. Only 21 peo­ple work on the plots dot­ted among fac­to­ries.

Since the 1980s, Nan­jie’s wealth has come from food pro­cess­ing: beer, choco­late, flour, in­stant noo­dles, liquor, medicine and spices. The vil­lage raked in 2 bil­lion yuan last year, 150 mil­lion yuan of which was profit.

Wang at­tributes the suc­cess to a col­lec­tive econ­omy and strong lead­er­ship, in­spired by Mao Ze­dong, lead­ing founder of the Peo­ple’s Republic of China. Mon­day marked the 123rd an­niver­sary of Mao’s birth.

At a sym­po­sium mark­ing the 120th an­niver­sary in De­cem­ber 2013, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said the Com­mu­nist Party of China will hold high the ban­ner of Mao Ze­dong Thought for­ever in pur­su­ing the Chi­nese na­tion’s re­ju­ve­na­tion.

Xi said Party mem­bers should ad­here to and make good use of the “liv­ing soul” of Mao Ze­dong Thought, namely seek­ing truth from facts, the “mass line” and in­de­pen­dence.

Mao’s legacy

It is hard to find another vil­lage in China quite like Nan­jie where Mao’s prin­ci­ples of moral­ity and col­lec­tivism live on.

Here, peo­ple still wake to loud­speak­ers blar­ing The East is Red, a clas­sic an­them of the 1960s. Mao’s quo­ta­tions ap­pear on fac­tory walls, in schools, shops and ho­tels, re­mind­ing peo­ple to sac­ri­fice their per­sonal in­ter­ests for the ben­e­fit of the col­lec­tive. Por­traits of Mao hang in al­most ev­ery liv­ing room.

In the vil­lage square, a 9-me­ter-tall white mar­ble statue of the great helms­man is flanked by por­traits of Marx, Friedrich En­gels, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. A ban­ner flut­ters over the statue, un­am­bigu­ously declar­ing, “Mao Ze­dong Thought shines over us for­ever”.

In the early 1980s, like the rest of ru­ral China, Nan­jie dis­man­tled com­munes and be­gan to open up. Col­lec­tive land was dis­trib­uted among house­holds and col­lec­tive fac­to­ries were con­tracted to in­di­vid­u­als. It was not long be­fore bank­ruptcy was the or­der of the day.

The vil­lage com­mit­tee took over two fac­to­ries in 1984, and by 1986, Nan­jie had re-col­lec­tivized all its farm­land, ex­panded its in­dus­tries and it be­gan tak­ing care of its res­i­dents.

Pros­per­ity brought with it free water and elec­tric­ity, then coal, gas, meat, eggs, flour and fi­nally, ed­u­ca­tion.

By the early 1990s, the vil­lage wel­fare sys­tem was com­plete. Even taxes and med­i­cal ex­penses were paid col­lec­tively.

In 1991, Nan­jie be­came the first vil­lage in He­nan with sales rev­enue of 100 mil­lion yuan and the num­ber of en­ter- prises in the vil­lage grew to 19.

“A col­lec­tive econ­omy is the in­evitable path to com­mon pros­per­ity and the ba­sis of solv­ing san­nong (farm­ers, vil­lages and agri­cul­ture) prob­lems,” Wang said.

He be­lieves Mao’s great­est legacy in to­day’s Nan­jie is the so­cial­ist path to com­mon pros­per­ity, which con­forms to the cur­rent gov­ern­ment goal of build­ing a well-off so­ci­ety by the end of 2020.

A col­lec­tive econ­omy can ben­e­fit from open­ing-up and mar­ket re­form, and Nan­jie, a vil­lage with no spe­cial re­sources or tal­ent, is a model for other vil­lages on their march to­ward pros­per­ity, ac­cord­ing to Wang.

While Nan­jie is not alone in its col­lec­tive econ­omy, its dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth is unique. Huaxi vil­lage in East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince has a strong steel and tex­tile in­dus­try. There, gold bul­lion is dis­trib­uted to vil­lagers, mak­ing ev­ery­one a mil­lion­aire. In Nan­jie, Wang and more than 300 vil­lagers, mostly cadres and fac­tory man­agers, re­ceive a monthly salary of only 250 yuan, hardly enough for a fam­ily meal in Bei­jing or Shang­hai. Most fac­tory work­ers get 2,000 yuan.

Their in­comes con­sist of 30 per­cent cash and 70 per­cent ben­e­fits. Wang plans to grad­u­ally re­duce the amount of cash and in­crease the wel­fare.

“Ul­ti­mately and in­evitably, we will root out pri­vate own­er­ship and dis­trib­ute goods ac­cord­ing to in­di­vid­ual needs,” Wang said. “En­thu­si­asm in­spired by cash will wither away. Strong philo­soph­i­cal com­mit­ment is the key.”

A col­lec­tive econ­omy is the in­evitable path to com­mon pros­per­ity.” Wang Hong­bin, sec­re­tary of Nan­jie vil­lage Party com­mit­tee

Whose utopia?

Ding Xiao­hui has worked in Nan­jie’s noo­dle fac­tory since 2008. She dreams of be­ing an “hon­orary vil­lager”, but the vil­lage stopped grant­ing such ti­tles in 2003. Ding earns 2,000 yuan a month, but en­joys none of the free food, ac­com­mo­da­tion or other niceties that the Nan­jie lo­cals have.

“Ex­ploita­tion of work­ers from other vil­lages is rea­son­able dur­ing the tran­si­tion from col­lec­tive cap­i­tal­ism to com­mu­nism,” Wang said, adding that he is con­fi­dent that the work of build­ing a com­mu­nist com­mu­nity will be com­pleted in his life­time.

His wife works in the laun­dry room of the vil­lage ho­tel and is a staunch sup­porter of her hus­band. Their three chil­dren, two daugh­ters and a son, work as civil ser­vants in the cities of Zhengzhou and Luohe.

“They nei­ther dis­cuss nor sup­port nor op­pose my cause,” Wang said.

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