In 2021, President Xi Jinping announced that absolute poverty had been eliminated in rural areas noting that by so doing the country had solved its major weak link in the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The country immediately embarked on a new phase of development, to fully build a modernized socialist country. I visited China’s Xinjiang autonomous region this week, and I have observed great strides to address imbalanced development across the country.
While in Tuyugou, one of the ancient villages in Shanshan County, in Turpan, I witnessed first-hand the efforts being made to economically empower the locals. This is an area tucked inside a desert.
Here, traditional houses with raw earth structures built by villagers based on the natural terrain are a key feature. However, owing to the unfavorable conditions, the 65 families with 373 people that lived here have relocated to a better place developed by the government. Their new home has improved social facilities.
With their dignity guaranteed, the government made a decision to safeguard this ancient village with a long history through traditional village protection and development plans. It has since become a tourist attraction area and the number of tourists coming here has increased significantly.
The families that previously lived here were allowed back to the village to start businesses.
One of them, Rebiguli Alimu, who comes from the Uygur community, and who now works as a tour guide, tells me she is happy the government relocated them to a better place and turned the village into a tourist site.
She narrates how, in the past, they had problems accessing basic needs like water. She said their homes were crowded and families of four to five people were forced to fit into small dilapidated rooms.
“In our new houses, we have good bathrooms. The houses are big and there is enormous space. Infrastructure has been developed and movement from one place to another has been made easy. We have a school and a hospital just near our homes. I am happy for the government policy on poverty alleviation and rural revitalization,” she said
She goes on; “I was born and raised in this village. In the past, I only worked on our farm and the returns were not good. But through this government programme, I was able to go back to school and studied about tourism. I am a tour guide now and my income has since improved and I am happy,”
Rebiguli is not alone. I also met Medinur Ahmat who expressed joy about the transformation of the ancient village into a tourist attraction site. She sells grapes and says the fruits are so profitable.
“After graduation from the university, I came here to set up a business. During peak periods when we receive many tourists, I normally sell grapes worth 2000RMB (Ksh. 40,000) on average daily. In the past, we didn’t get much from grape farming. But today, I am able to sell grapes, either fresh or dried, and our income as the family has really increased,” she told me
The views of the two Uygur community members represent the feelings of the general population here. Rural revitalization programmes have brought them new technologies that have strengthened their capacity and competitiveness.
Life for them continues to improve, and they have new aspirations for a better life. Thanks to government policies, quality farm products and rural tourism are bringing new opportunities. With ongoing initiatives, the Chinese government will no doubt realize the dream of building a modern socialist country.