Village in NE China marches to prosperity by developing characteristic industries and tapping into local customs and culture

By Hao Yingcan, Zhang Yikai, People’s Daily


By taking full advantage of local culture and customs and boosting the development of characteristic industries, Xinghuo village, Xinghuo township of the Korean ethnic group, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province has shaken off poverty and embarked on the path to prosperity.


In recent years, Xinghuo township has implemented a series of favorable policies to boost the development of poverty-relief projects, including photovoltaic electricity projects, fruit and vegetable planting bases, and rice cultivation cooperatives, said Nan Nan, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinghuo township committee.


Thanks to these “money trees”, Xinghuo village bid farewell to poverty and witnessed significant progress in industrial development last year.


To consolidate its poverty alleviation results and further improve the living standards of local people, the village has not only strived to underpin existing industries, but explored new ones to increase the income of residents.


Promoting the development of tourism industry by making the most of traditional crafts is Xinghuo village’s new way to increase income after getting rid of poverty, Nan said.


“The elderly in the village are all experts at making pickles, sauce and rice wine. The folk customs and culture of the village of the Korean ethnic group are our tourism resources,” the official explained.


In July 2019, the village officially launched a project to develop a distinctive tourist attraction featuring folk customs with an investment of 70 million yuan (about $10.73 million).


The investor of the project is a cooperative which local villagers joined with about 4.8 square kilometers of paddy fields.


The tourist attraction project includes various facilities, including a museum of the village’s history, a reception and service center, traditional Korean-style restaurant, homestay hotel, leisure square, picking garden, and theater. It has gathered almost all the popular facilities and services visitors could wish for in rural tourism trips. In addition, visitors can also enjoy recreational and healthcare facilities and services in the tourist attraction.


In an ethnic culture-themed square decorated with folk paintings, villagers in the traditional costumes of the Korean ethnic group were seen performing a drum dance for tourists to music. Seeing this, many tourists also put on traditional Korean clothing and danced together with them joyfully.


“I could earn dozens of yuan to over 100 yuan for one dance,” said Li Taiyu, one of the performers, who is excited her passion for dancing could become a source of income.


After the folk custom tourist attraction project is fully completed, it is expected to secure an annual sales income of 40 million yuan, create 180 jobs and increase the income of each poor household by over 10,000 yuan in cash dividends, according to Li Tiecheng, head of the poverty alleviation working team stationed in the village, adding that villagers will receive the dividends of both the cooperative and the project.


In July this year, the tourist attraction opened to the public. Until now, it has received over 20,000 visitors.


This year, the per capita income of residents in Xinghuo village reached 14,560 yuan. “My income rises by about 1,000 yuan every year,” said Li Taiyu, who has already moved into a new house with a sound heating system, which belongs to the buildings jointly funded and built by the villagers.


“In summer next year, there will be a sea of flowers that covers an area of 80,000 square meters in the west of our village, and a water park in the north,” Li added, introducing the tourism projects in the village to reporters warmly.


Xinghuo village’s prosperity has mirrored the efforts of Huachuan county to bring the development of poverty relief industries to a higher level, noted Gao Zhongliang, director of the poverty alleviation office of the county.


Based on the five major poverty relief industries of the locality, namely rice, animal husbandry, photovoltaic industry, vegetable and fruit, as well as e-commerce, the county has developed 42 sub-industries based on local conditions to fight poverty.


In May 2019, Huachuan county was officially removed from China’s list of impoverished counties. However, shaking off poverty is never the end, but a new starting point for the county.


After it bid farewell to poverty, Huachuan county has continued advancing rural characteristic industries and consolidating poverty alleviation results through a series of measures.


This year, the per capita net income of the county’s former registered poor households has risen to 12,801 yuan, an increase of 27.2 percent over last year.