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Even remote villages not immune to changing times

Author  :  Niu Dongjie     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-03-07

My hometown is an ordinary village in Southeast Shanxi Province that lacks convenient forms of transportation. There are altogether more than 120 households there. Though Shanxi is rich with coal resources, my hometown does not benefit from them.

When I arrived, the sight of the road leading to the village comforted me. Once rife with potholes, it had been newly repaved. The rows in the fields were thick with coal ash and slag, so even after rain or snow, they would not become muddy. The people of the village said that the roads and street lamps were repaired through the collective effort of the local government and villagers.

I noticed many changes when I visited relatives and friends during the Spring Festival. The Internet is now accessible in a handful of households, which have become places for the young people to congregate after they return home. Small heating units have replaced charcoal furnaces in some homes. Also, some villagers have purchased houses in the county or downtown after years of working in cities and are planning to leave the village in the next two or three years.

Almost a quarter of the farmland of the village has been transferred to others by the former contractors, who chose to migrate out of town for work, and most of the agricultural work is performed by machinery instead of human hands.

“In the past, the modernization of China was mostly urban modernization. As industrialization gains ground and spreads in each corner of the country, it is time for the modernization of rural areas,” said Cao Heping, a professor of economics at Peking University. Land transfer and migration for work is a way to optimize social resources, which is the result of the growth of national economy. In this sense, the rural modernization might become an important indicator of the sustainable development of Chinese economy, Cao said.

Ye Jingzhong, a professor from the College of Humanities and Development Studies at China Agricultural University, said people are sentimentally attached to their hometowns and their parents no matter where they go. Those migrant workers not only foster material exchanges between villages and cities but also accelerate the interaction between urban and rural areas in culture, ideology and lifestyle.

Ordinary villages are closely keeping pace and adjusting to the outside environment. The gradual modernization of the village is also a reflection of China’s comprehensive progress in politics, economy, culture and ecology. And I hope my hometown can achieve social progress to create a better life.

Editor: Yu Hui

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