The Luotuowan Village of Fuping County, north China's Hebei Province, July 23, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)
SHIJIAZHUANG, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The dot Tang Xiaoyi uses as his social media handle is invisible to many.
Similarly, his home village Luotuowan, in Fuping County, north China's Hebei Province, may appear as just another dot on the country's digital map. However, the village's remarkable strides in poverty reduction cannot be disregarded.
Situated less than 40 km from Fuping's county seat, Luotuowan is isolated from the outside world due to its mountainous terrain. With less than 1,000 yuan (about 140.8 U.S. dollars) of per capita income at the end of 2012, the village was classified as "especially impoverished." Consequently, its young people opted to seek jobs elsewhere, leaving behind a population primarily composed of children and the elderly.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, visited the village on Dec. 30, 2012.
Tang can still recall the moment when Xi stepped into his home. "My grandparents were cooking, while I sought warmth by the crackling fire," said the 15-year-old boy.
One impression remained etched in his memory was that "grandpa Xi is very amiable." Tang said he was surprised when later seeing himself on television, the only electric appliance in his room back then.
AN END TO POVERTY
Tang remembers his childhood with his grandparents in a house made of stone and mud, in which the cooking range was connected with the "kang," a traditional adobe sleeping platform designed for warmth and comfort.
"In summer, my grandparents had to cook outside in the yard, otherwise the room would be too hot for us to sleep in at night," he recalled. "Whereas in winter, we huddled together on the kang, seeking warmth by the charcoal brazier."
At the end of 2012, Tang's family was one of the 189 families -- nearly two thirds of all the households in the village -- that were still grappling with poverty.
During his visit, Xi said the most arduous and heavy task facing China in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society is in the rural areas, especially the poverty-stricken regions.
Chinese authorities in April 2014 issued a plan on the registration of the poor population, mobilizing millions of grassroots officials nationwide to carry out poverty identification. A total of 128,000 villages, 29.32 million households, and 89.62 million people were identified as poor, according to national standards and procedures on poverty reduction.
That was how the country intensified its poverty elimination campaign with precision.
In February 2021, Xi declared a "complete victory" in the fight against poverty through joint efforts from all ethnic groups.
China has lifted 770 million rural residents out of poverty since the beginning of the reform and opening-up over 40 years ago, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global total, according to the World Bank's international poverty line.
A BETTER LIFE
The achievement was made possible by countless "dots" on China's map, including Luotuowan village, where remarkable transformations have unfolded.
Thanks to farming and the thriving tourism industry, the per capita disposable income of villagers in Luotuowan surpassed 20,000 yuan by the end of 2022, a staggering 21-fold increase compared to the 2012 levels.
The village witnessed the emergence of various essential amenities, including banks, post offices, libraries, and e-commerce pickup points. Life in the village has become modern, convenient and connected as charging devices for new energy vehicles and wireless phones are installed.
As a result of the burgeoning tourism industry which generated new jobs, the village once abandoned by young people is now attracting people from elsewhere.
Bai Wenying, assistant manager at a restaurant in Luotuowan, hails from a neighboring village just a 12-minute drive. The 46-year-old, who previously worked in Beijing, said she is happy to earn an income while staying close to home.
As more visitors flock in, the restaurant now recruits 15 people compared to the previous eight. The village welcomes a daily influx of up to 8,000 visitors in its peak season.
"We have a good life," read some large red characters painted on a wall near the entrance to the village. Not far away, a few old dilapidated houses have been preserved as a poignant reminder of days gone by.
Tang Xiaoyi now lives in an apartment his parents bought in the county seat of Fuping. Thanks to the construction of a new road, the journey from Luotuowan to the county seat now takes only an hour by car.
His grandfather passed away a few years ago, after the family moved to a modern two-story building close to their old house. The old family house has been preserved as a tourist attraction, with everything inside looking exactly the same as 11 years ago. The only addition is a photo on the wall that captures the moment when Xi sat alongside Tang and his grandparents near the fire brazier.
Tang's teacher Wang Yue said the boy excels academically, having attained the highest score in the recent English test in his class.
Speaking about his aspirations for the future, the normally reticent Tang became eloquent, saying that confining oneself to a "dot" would limit their perspective.
He expressed his desire to explore beyond the boundaries of the county. "I want to see the big world." ■