Changes of China's countryside through lens of a British vlogger

(Xinhua) 14:52, June 18, 2021

HOHHOT, June 18 (Xinhua) -- For many, China's glitzy metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai are the go-to places to feel the pulse of the fast-developing country. But to Curt McArdle, a British vlogger, the vast Chinese countryside is an even better location to keep up with the mind-blowing pace of development.

McArdle, 26, has lived in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for five years, teaching English in a private institution in the regional capital Hohhot.

In his spare time, he likes filming his excursions to villages near Hohhot and has so far posted more than 10 such videos on YouTube.

McArdle said he was greatly impressed with the sea changes that have taken place in the villages during his trips over the years. In his eyes, the changes are most evident in infrastructures, such as roads, internet, public toilets and other amenities.

The old, bumpy village roads have mostly been paved, much to the delight of tourists who like to explore the villages on bicycles, McArdle said.

He added that Hohhot opened two metro lines in the last two years to link its downtown area with suburban villages, a move that is expected to further fuel the villages' development.

"Now you can easily spend a day in a village. You can use the public toilets and go to restaurants to buy food. That wasn't the case when I first went there," said McArdle, recalling that he used to fill his bag with all sorts of food before traveling to the villages.

"I can go to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and pay for everything with WeChat. There's always 4G, so I can use the map on my phone to get back to the city," he said, adding that whenever he goes to a village, the local residents are more than glad to show him around their houses and inform him of the latest development in their village.

In some villages, vendors told him that they were able to sell local produce at higher prices thanks to the growing number of tourists brought in by the more convenient transport.

"The villagers are very proud of how their places have developed," he said.

McArdle attributed the great changes in Hohhot's countryside to China's efforts in poverty reduction and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, known as "Xiaokang" in Chinese.

By 2020, China had lifted all of its nearly 100 million impoverished rural residents out of poverty, securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation. Official data showed that the country's per capita disposable income exceeded 32,000 yuan (about 5,000 U.S. dollars) last year, more than double the level in 2010.

"I can't think of many changes on the planet that have been greater than that," McArdle said. "But when I read the numbers, it didn't surprise me because I think when China sets its mind to something, everybody gets behind it."

He said the rising incomes of the Chinese people, especially in the rural areas, have allowed them to pursue more colorful lives.

He recalled his visit to Gecilao Village in the suburb of Hohhot early this year, where he came across villagers singing, playing musical instruments, painting and practicing calligraphy in the local community center.

That would not have been possible if people still struggled to make ends meet and had little leisure time, he said.

As for his future plans, McArdle said he hoped to continue traveling and vlogging in China to show the real China to the world and become a part of China's development.

"Now that the vaccine is being rolled out and things are much safer in China, I really want to see more of the country," he said.

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Hongyu)


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