TAIYUAN — In the eyes of Hao Xiangping, a new bridge has led his deadlocked hometown out of poverty and toward prosperity.
Hao’s home, Miaoping village of Linxian county in North China’s Shanxi province, is in an impoverished area deep in the mountains.
A provincial-level road located hundreds of meters away is the only major route to the outside world. In the past, villagers had to wade into a wide, shallow river to reach the road.
During harvesting season, farmers had to carry grain bags across the river. Few women wanted to marry into the isolated village of 2,000 people.
Like many villagers, Hao left home and ran a small business in the city, hundreds of kilometers away.
Poor transportation infrastructure has hampered development of many parts of rural China. As the country announced it will eradicate poverty by 2020, central and local governments have spent heavily on rural roads and bridges.
The Ministry of Transport issued a circular in 2015, requesting efforts in construction, maintenance, protection and operation of rural roads.
“With the policy taking effect, we were soon allocated funds,” said Qiao Weishun, a Party official in charge of poverty alleviation in the village. Qiao added that the village, which lacked bridges and asphalt roads, had been prioritized.
In recent years, three bridges have been built over the river next to Miaoping, including one that can support heavy trucks.
Modern machines are now able to enter the village. Farmers have turned to more profitable crops, such as walnuts and pears, as transportation is no longer a problem.
Entrepreneurs have also been drawn to the village, which is now home to a feed mill and two date processing plants.
In 2015, Hao decided to return home. With his savings, he and a fellow villager built a mushroom processing factory.
“There is no place like home,” he said.
The per capita net income of the village has doubled to over 8,000 yuan ($1,274) from the 2014 level.
“The number of women marrying into our village every year has jumped 10 times,” said Qiao.
“Better road facilities have linked us to prosperous lives,” he said.
Over the past five years, the central government has earmarked 400 billion yuan and mobilized 1.6 trillion yuan of social investment in rural road construction.
A total of 1.27 million km of roads were built in the countryside during the period, bringing the total length of rural roads to 4 million km, according to government figures.
Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng said more efforts would be made to ensure asphalt road access to all qualified townships and villages by 2019 and to guarantee passenger transport services covering all qualified villages by 2020.
“Transportation should not stand in the way of ushering in a moderate prosperous society,” Li said on the sidelines of the annual session of the national legislature last month.