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Liuyang River in China: Episode 1 - The Source

(People's Daily Online)    14:52, February 09, 2018

Of the hundreds of rivers that flow all across China, one river is known to all Chinese because of a song.

Stories of life along these riverbanks provide an engaging overview of this famous river’s unique history.

Lu Chengying, a farmer living in the Daweishan Mountains in Liuyang, didn’t realize that his simple wooden house was the first house to be built at the source of the Liuyang River.

LU CHENGYING: It was really difficult to build houses then, and difficult to farm as well. People here all lived off the land.

The ever-flowing underground water is the essence of the Daweishan Mountains. It is filtered through the heart of the mountains, before gushing out into the world.

LU CHENGYING: Behind our village, there’s a spring. So, it’s really damp here. If we use cement to build our houses, the water will seep into the walls and the walls will probably collapse. That’s why we don’t even use cement for the floor.

Like all other agricultural civilizations that live off the land, to deal with the dire issue of food shortages at the time, Chinese farmers in the last century turned mountain slopes into terraced fields. However, after realizing the consequences, Chinese farmers began reverting the farmlands back to forests and seeking new ways of living. It was under such circumstances, that Lu Chengying became the owner of these woods.

LU CHENGYING:To protect Liuyang’s water, we must preserve the woods. We took great pains to tear down all of our pig farms.

Strictly following the law of nature, residents at the source cut down cedar and bamboo selectively. It takes years for the trees to grow, so the woods can only provide so much for people. By the end of the 1980s, Lu Chengying’s three children had all reached school age.

LU CHENGYING:In ‘87, I was so worn out that by the end of the year my right foot began to ache, and I had to stay in bed. You can’t imagine it. I felt so hopeless. I cried a washbasin’s worth of tears.

After a major operation, Lu Chengying kept doing the best he could to support the family. The only thing that had changed from before, was that his son started helping him.

LU CHENGYING: My eldest son started following me when he was (about) thirteen. Wherever I went, he would follow me there.

And finally, with the improvement of the village’s economy, their lives began to change for the better. Lu Chengying’s children, inspired by the new ideas brought about by the reform and opening up of China, flowed into the city with hope, just like the Liuyang River.

LU MENGLIANG: (Lu Chengying’s son) Things are much better now. My brother and I are both working in Liuyang city. We want to bring our parents there to experience city life, but they’ve said no. They’re used to living here. They’re attached to it.

Their father’s love towards this small village, is the exact reason why this ancient village still thrives, and why this family has formed unbreakable ties with the source of the river.

LU MENGLIANG:Every time I visit, I take a few bottles of the water back.

Immersed in both the modernity of the city and the simplicity of the village, Lu Chengying and his family feel a happiness that they have never experienced before. Simplicity is becoming rare and precious.

Preserving the pure source of the river for his children is a father’s duty, and Liuheyuan Village’s duty. With the development of the village, those living by the river continue discovering new ecological resources, while preserving the source, because they know, protecting nature, is akin to protecting ourselves.

The clear spring water flows forward over a hundred kilometers, until it joins with the Liuyang River.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Hu Ximeng, Bianji)

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