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Jiangcun Village in East China's Jiangsu: sample of China's rural development

(People's Daily Online)    14:56, August 05, 2020

Kaixiangong Village in east China's Jiangsu province serves not only as a symbol of Chinese sociological research, but also as an example of China's rural development.

Kaixiangong Village (Photo/Wang Xinnian)

In 1936, sociologist Fei Xiaotong carried out a two-month rural survey in the village and wrote the world-renowned book "Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley". Since then, Jiangcun Village has become synonymous with Kaixiangong Village.

"In 2019, our per capita disposable income reached 35,800 yuan (about $5,140), which far exceeds the well-off level," said Yao Fukun, a resident of Kaixiangong Village, adding that "in 1978, the per capita living space in the village was less than 5 square meters, but now it has reached 80 square meters."

"When I came to Jiangcun Village for the first time, I visited villagers' houses, and the living conditions were very poor. Houses were divided into two parts: in the back, there was a room with only one bed and a footrest in front of it, and next to the footrest is the toilet. In the front is the kitchen room," said Professor Liu Haoxing of Fudan University, noting that "now there are dozens of villas in the village."

(Photo/Chang Hong)

The improvement in living conditions is just one of many examples of the development and changes that have taken place in Kaixiangong Village. Shen Bin, secretary of the Party committee of Kaixiangong Village, said that in 2019, the village's collective income reached 3.2 million yuan, with each household owning 1.2 private cars. The local market, with an investment of 5 million yuan, had just been completed and put into operation in the village.

"At present, chemical fiber textiles, woolen sweater knitting and aquaculture have become the three pillar industries of our village. They not only solve the employment problem in the village, but also draw many people here," Shen Bin said with pride when talking about the village's ability to retain talents.

"There is no end to development. In the future, we want to focus on tapping the cultural resources of Jiangcun Village," Shen explained.

A foreign reporter with People's Daily Online joins a tea party in the village (Photo/Chang Hong)

The mode of production has become increasingly diversified, and industry is constantly being optimized and upgraded, which is reflected in every phase of development in Kaixiangong Village.

As a demonstration village for public cultural services, Kaixiangong Village began building Jiangcun Village cultural park as early as 2010, and carried out expansion and renovation work in 2018. Now, Kaixiangong Village possesses cultural lanes and a cultural auditorium, which often puts on Kunqu Opera performances in the village.

Ladies’ tea parties are also frequently held in the village.

In July 2018, Kaixiangong Village established the first village-level township council in Wujiang District. By employing local rural talents to take part in managing village affairs, the village has used traditional rural culture to improve the rural social governance system.

Walking through Kaixiangong village, visitors can see sorting trash bins in front of every house. The whole village is so clean that it’s difficult to find a single piece of rubbish here.

A Kunqu puppet show (Photo/Dong Xiaowei)

According to Shen, Kaixiangong Village was selected for the characteristic pastoral rural construction project in Suzhou in 2018. The village has fully mobilized housewives, and worked to create a new style for Jiangcun village, featuring beautiful courtyards and a civilized rural style.

Jiangcun Village does not only refer to Kaixiangong village, but also the "Pan-Jiangcun Village” concept, including all the rural areas of Wujiang, according to Zhu Jianwen, deputy mayor of Wujiang District, "Wujiang district takes Kaixiangong Village as the basis, Jiangcun Village as Wujiang's business card and brand, and proposes to build a rural revitalization demonstration zone of Jiangcun Village, China."

In 2019, there were a total of 13 key projects in the rural revitalization demonstration zone, with an investment of about 383 million yuan.

Not far from Kaixiangong Village is Pingwang Town. A recreational center and a hotel with their own distinctive features will soon be established, which will help increase local villagers’ incomes. 

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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