By Ou Can, Qian Xiaohu, Sun Libo
Editor's Note: This is one of the heartwarming stories from China in this new era. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping, who cares for the ordinary people, has visited poverty-stricken regions many times to bring solutions to the challenges and obstacles hindering poverty reduction. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has considered its participation in poverty alleviation a concrete move to translate its loyalty to the Party into practical actions. With a strong sense of mission, the whole army is fulfilling its commitment to share the Party’s burdens and strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the benefit of the people.
[Playback] When President Xi Jinping inspected Yuanlong resettlement village in Minning town, Yongning county of Yinchuan in July 2016, he told the villagers how happy he was to see them step out of poverty and live in the neat and clean new village.
An Ecological Resettlement Village Built on the Gobi Desert
The reporters visited Yuanlong village in Minning town, Yongning county of Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, north-central China. Here used to be a village known for its dire natural conditions – no birds in the sky, no grass on the ground, sand and stones everywhere when the wind blows, but now the barren village has been turned into a small renowned town with unique characteristics.
On July 15, 1997, the Minning village broke ground – a day that changed the life of the whole village. Xi Jinping, the then deputy secretary of CPC Fujian provincial Committee, sent a congratulatory letter to the village on behalf of the leading group of Fujian designated to support Ningxia, wishing the anti-poverty cooperation between the two provinces a great success.
In the past 20 years and more, President Xi has visited Ningxia four times. The first time was in 1997 when he was still working in Fujian and was in charge of the designated assistance to Ningxia. After that, he visited Ningxia three times in 2008, 2016, and 2020, all focusing on poverty alleviation.
Today, the village has been elevated to be Minning town, and the resettlement village where there was “no birds in the sky, no grass on the ground, and sand and stones everywhere when the wind blows” has been turned into a famous town with unique characteristics.
“When villagers first moved here, there were sand dunes everywhere. The sandstorm was a daily thing in spring, summer brings heat waves, and winter was dry and cold.” Zhang Huaiqi, a senior engineer of a PLA army unit who lived next-door to Yuanlong village, has witnessed how this resettlement village has struggled its way up on the Gobi desert.
Military-local co-construction activities have increased after the first batch of residents were re-located in the 1990s. The PLA army unit signed an agreement with the village to help with its relocation and resettlement. Since then, the unit has started afforestation there and kept improving the local eco-environment.
More than 20 years have passed. Now it has become a famous border eco-village, where rows upon rows of tall windbreaks are stretching far into the Gobi desert like an ecological barrier, and the dunes have been turned into orchards.