Chinese anti-poverty TV series well received abroad
YINCHUAN, July 10 (Xinhua) – A Chinese television drama series about the country’s efforts to reduce poverty recently gained popularity overseas, garnering millions of views on YouTube.
“Shanhaiqing”, also known by its English title “Minning Town,” follows villagers in the 1990s in Xihaigu, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as they moved from deep mountains to a habitable region near the Yellow River. They are building their new homes in Minning from scratch with the help of Fujian Province (east China), a relatively wealthy coastal province.
The Chinese title “Shanhaiqing” roughly translates to “Love of the Mountain and the Sea”, which implies the bringing together of the hands of Ningxia and Fujian.
The actual story behind the drama is even more touching. A total of 66,000 relocated villagers, groups of frontline officials and experts from Fujian are the stars of the fight against poverty in Xihaigu, a region that has suffered from arid lands, drought and a fragile ecological environment. . It was called “the most unfit place for human settlement” by the United Nations in 1972.
OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS
Xie Xingchang, the inspiration for main character Ma Defu in the drama and former Party secretary in Funing Village, Minning Town, said the film reflected much of what happened in real life, but the reality was much more bitter.
Xie’s hometown was a small mountain village in Xihaigu, where extreme drought forced residents to depend on government food aid.
In 1996, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China made the strategic decision to promote a twinning support program between East and West China. Wealthy areas were tasked with helping less developed regions, and the coastal Fujian province was associated with Ningxia. The relocation of villagers living in arid mountainous areas to habitable areas near the Yellow River was a key project at the time.
July 15, 1997 is a day engraved in Xie’s memory. It was then that the construction of Minning Village, jointly built by Fujian and Ningxia, near the regional capital of Ningxia, Yinchuan, began. As the area was still an undeveloped wasteland, only 13 households agreed to “emigrate” with Xie, even after two mobilization campaigns.
“Traveling over 400 km from my hometown to Minning Village took us 12 hours on three-wheeled motorcycles. We had to sleep on the floor the night we arrived. The next day we moved bricks and bought wood for build a house, ”said Xie, 66.
He remembers a day when his wife was cooking inside a tent and a sandstorm suddenly hit. “The tent was taken away, leaving my wife with a pot in her arms and a quilt under her feet.”
“It was all we had,” he said.
The rough days continued throughout their first New Years Eve after they moved. Without electricity in the new village, Xie’s family of seven lit candles to eat noodles in their adobe-style home. “After we put our kids to sleep, my wife and I sat in the wilderness and counted the trains passing nearby. My mind, however, was back in the day when the kids were crying for sugar but I didn’t. no money at all. I was more than sad. “
The next day, Xie and his fellow villagers went out to tend the land.
In the spring they planted corn and luckily abundant irrigation of the Yellow River gave them a bumper harvest that year.
The good news has attracted more people to leave the mountains. Today, Minning Village has become Minning Town, which is home to 66,000 residents. Xie’s house has a TV, refrigerator and flush toilet, and has been decorated with traditional Chinese paintings and calligraphy. “Twenty-four years after moving here, I still feel like it’s a dream.”
OUT OF POVERTY
As Xie and others struggled with extreme weather conditions to survive, Lin Zhanxi, professor at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University and Professor Ling Yinong’s influence in “Minning Town,” led a team. who traveled over 2,000 km from wet Fujian to an abandoned cave in Pengyang County of Xihaigu. Taking six boxes of mushrooms with them, they planned to find out how to grow mushrooms in arid areas and start a rich industry in Ningxia.
“Many of the displaced residents were concerned about the bread and butter issues as there was no industry in the newly built village,” said Lin, 78. “Therefore, we had to develop an industry that could bring good fortune quickly to reassure them as they took hold. Lin decided to plant Agaricus bisporus, a widely cultivated species of fungus with a short planting cycle and significant benefits.
After a successful trial planting in Pengyang County, Lin and his team visited Minning in 1998 and designed a semi-cellar mushroom farm for the Gobi Desert, which could ensure appropriate temperatures and humidity. Since the locals had never planted the mushroom, Lin and the other team members took the time to teach them, with each team member responsible for 30 to 50 households.
“Under expert guidance, I earned more than 7,000 yuan (about $ 1,081) in the first year,” said villager Liu Changfu. “I had never made so much money at once. I was very happy.”
The Xihaigu people began to take root in the Gobi Desert. From vine planting and photovoltaic agriculture to cattle ranching, Minning Town has gradually welcomed more diverse industries with the deepening of cooperation between Fujian and Ningxia.
The city’s per capita annual disposable income fell from 500 yuan when the move began to 14,900 yuan last year, when more than 7,000 poor households bid farewell to absolute poverty.
It only took two weeks for Bai Xiyan to go from a blind date to a wedding in Xihaigu. She said she had no choice. She had only met her future husband three times at the age of 22, and all meetings were arranged by her parents.
In 2014, Bai’s family was transferred to Yuanlong Village in Minning Town. There, unlike the original Minning, houses, schools and hospitals had been built in advance. Bai’s life changed there in 2019 when she and more than 50 rural women started working in a new poverty reduction workshop in e-commerce.
In just one year, she became a manager and joined a live broadcast team to promote Ningxia’s special agricultural products to audiences across the country, earning more than 3,000 yuan per month.
“Work not only gives me a stable income, it also gives me confidence and dignity. Most importantly, my 9-year-old daughter can live a different life,” she said.
After leaving the mountains, the children of Xihaigu had access to a better education. The scenes of students from different classes crammed into the same classroom, which can be seen in the television series, are really a thing of the past.
At the school Bai’s daughter attends, the green soccer field is often full of children, and the classrooms are spacious and bright. Smart electronic screens installed in blackboards can link students in the city to their counterparts in Yinchuan, or even to those in Beijing.
“My biggest dream is for my daughter to go to college and choose her life however she wants,” she said.