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The Blang ethnic minority (4)

(People's Daily)

17:31, August 26, 2011

Post-liberation Life

In the spring of 1950, the Chinese People's Liberation Army entered the Blang area. By driving out bandits and local tyrants, and taking measures to protect the lives and property of the people of different nationalities, the army soon stabilized social order in this frontier region. This was followed by the people's government sending work teams to help the Blangs develop production and establish grassroots organs of power. Blangs sent their representatives to the prefectural and county people's congresses, where they exercised their rights as masters of their own affairs.

In light of the actual conditions in the Blang area, the government conducted a series of social reforms aimed at gradually eliminating feudal exploitation and vestiges of primitive backwardness hampering social development. Between 1952 and 1953, a land reform similar to that in the Han areas was carried out in Zhenkang, Lincang, Yanxian, Jingdong, Jinggu, Mujiang and other areas. In 1955-56, land reform of a more moderate nature was conducted in Gengma, Shuangjiang and some parts of Lancang, followed by the setting up of production cooperatives. In Xishuangbanna and Lancang's Nuofu area, where vestiges of primitive communism still existed, social reform progressed more slowly. It was not until 1958 that some cooperatives were set up there on a trial basis.

Since 1949, with the help of their Han and Dai neighbors, but mainly relying on themselves, the Blang people have made much progress in adopting more advanced farming methods. They have created paddy fields, built water-conservancy projects, begun using fertilizers and advanced farming tools, and adopted efficient management methods. As a result, the grain harvest has kept going up every year, as has the production of tea and cotton.

Commerce, education and health care have also developed rapidly. An ethnic minorities trading corporation has been set up in every prefecture; in some villages there are shops with a fairly complete stock of farm tools and daily-use items. State trading organizations purchase local produce in large quantities, resulting in increased income for the Blang people.

There were almost no schools in the Blang areas before 1949. In some places, young men were able to learn a little of the Dai language through chanting Dai Buddhist scriptures as trainee monks. Now all Blang children attend primary schools, which are evenly distributed in Blang villages.

The absence of any medical facilities in the Blang area before 1949 used to compel sick people to seek help from shamans and other charlatans. In the early post-1949 days, the government sent medical teams to the area, providing free medical care. Later, clinics were set up, local medical teams formed, and medical workers of Blang origin trained. Epidemics such as dysentery, smallpox and malaria were basically brought under control. As a result, the general health conditions of the Blang people have greatly improved.

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