Remote city wages new war on penury
Jinggangshan, or Jinggang Mountains, is known to many as the birthplace of the Chinese Red Army — the predecessor of the People’s Liberation Army — and the “cradle of the Chinese revolution”.
Following the Autumn Harvest Uprising in Hunan province in 1927, Mao Zedong led a 1,000-strong army to the region, setting up the nation’s first soviet government.
Mao chose Jinggangshan as the base for the Red Army because it is part of the Luoxiao Mountain Range in a remote region that borders Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. The landlocked area was far from the control centers of the Kuomintang military forces.
Because of its remote location, the Jinggangshan region in the west of Jiangxi province, has, throughout its history, been largely undeveloped.
This remains a problem today for the local government, which has placed poverty alleviation at the top of its list of priorities.
It has identified a number of measures that it hopes will make Jinggangshan the first county-level city in Jiangxi to eradicate poverty. Provincial officials have called for all residents to be above the poverty line by 2018, according to Liu Hong, Party chief of the city.
The key to eradicating poverty is to ensure that every household has a stable income stream through developing industries with local characteristics, according to Liu.
“We should find a sustainable model for industrial development to ensure that every family has its own business and is able to become financially independent,” he said.
The Party chief noted that in mountainous areas such as Jinggangshan, the best strategy is to develop tea and bamboo plantations, as well as fruit orchards.
The city encourages the development of rural cooperatives in its villages and townships, which allows farmers to use their land, financial assets and labor force as stakes in the cooperatives, which ensure that production can be better organized and products can be more effectively sold on the market.
Jinggangshan is working hard to develop its tourism industry, which will offer new jobs to local residents as it grows.”
Party chief of Jinggangshan
At present, more than 2,300 households in Jinggangshan have joined various cooperatives, according to Liu.
The city has established a venture called Huinongbao Industrial Investment Corp, which allows extremely impoverished families to become shareholders. Each family can receive government funding of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,489) as their stake in the company. To date, more than 1,500 families have joined the company.
“As a renowned revolutionary tour destination, Jinggangshan is working hard to develop its tourism industry, which will offer new jobs to local residents as it grows,” Liu said.
According to Luo Chenyuan, deputy chief of the publicity department of Jinggangshan city, tourism and related sectors such as catering and transportation have provided employment to some 40,000 locals, accounting for 25 percent of the city’s total population.
The per capital income of tourism industry employees reached 24,000 yuan last year, Luo said, adding that the industry now accounts for more than half of local GDP.
Luo also cited other measures that the city is taking to alleviate poverty, such as funding the construction of new houses to help families move out of landlocked areas with poor living conditions and expanding its social insurance system for healthcare, education and pensions to ensure that more residents are covered.