Walking along a dirt road, Premier Li Keqiang first saw ragged houses buried in a mountain valley, where corn leaves swayed in a breeze on a hot day on July as he visited Dawanhe village.
After a 90-minute drive from downtown Baoji in southwestern Shaanxi province, Premier Li reached the village, which has been known for its deprived economic status, with about 31 percent of its residents living below the poverty line last year.
Houses were built on a terrace-shaped mountainside to accommodate as many people as possible in such a confined valley. Most houses were made of dirt and have been standing for decades. Dogs and chickens alert residents when strangers arrive.
The Premier stepped into the homes of two families, inquiring about details of their incomes, children’s education and social security system for the elderly.
He first went to the household of Cai Cunrang, 32, and her husband and children.
Cai said her family relies on her husband as others are either too young or too old. She has to take care of two of her daughters when they go to school in the township seat, about 19 km from the small village. Her husband’s parents are both deaf and cannot assist.
She said the 20,000 yuan ($2,940) her husband earned last year didn’t meet their expenditures, and corn grown on the barren land was not enough to ease their financial burden.
Cai’s neighbor Chen Futian, 46, said the backward infrastructure and lack of education had hindered the village’s development. The mobile phone signal was so unstable that Chen had to motorcycle 5 km to get a phone call. “Not to mention selling produce online. Most villagers are uneducated and unaware of how to use social media such as WeChat,” Chen said.
A group of villagers sat with the Premier and discussed their lives－why it’s still inconvenient for schooling, jobs and even groceries. Some poverty-stricken families, such as Cai’s, will be relocated to a residential complex in a nearby town in September, and others will move next June.
Each family pays 10,000 yuan to get an apartment in the relocation project. Meanwhile, a sightseeing site is being built to increase employment opportunities while local government is helping villagers produce agricultural goods such as honey to expand income channels.
These are some beneficiaries of the country’s poverty relief campaign. Last year, about 48 percent of 3.16 million people living under the poverty line were lifted above in Shaanxi, with 1.2 billion yuan from the provincial government and 3.4 billion yuan allocated by the central government. Among them, 600,000 people were relocated from far-flung areas to more developed ones.
“I hope you will find good jobs after moving to new homes in the town and lead a pleasant life,” Premier Li said. “This place will be better as it may be developed as a tourism destination.”
He also visited entrepreneurship and innovation parks in Yangling, an agricultural high-tech hub neighboring Baoji.