Pairing assistance enables ethnic village in SW China's Yunnan to better exploit cultural, tourism resources

(People's Daily Online) 11:22, November 27, 2023

In 2017, Shanghai's Qingpu district initiated a pairing assistance program with Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Since then, the two regions have collaborated to promote economic and social development by capitalizing on their unique strengths.

Photo shows De'ang-style wooden residential buildings in Chudonggua village, Santaishan township, the only township in China that is inhabited by people of the De'ang ethnic group. (People's Daily Online/Liu Yi)

Chudonggua village, with a rich history dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), is situated in Santaishan township. This township is unique as it is the only township in China inhabited by people of the De'ang ethnic group. The village is renowned for its well-preserved De'ang architectural style, making it a focal point for cultural research and preservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction.

Chudonggua village has gained significant interest from scholars specializing in ethnic studies, as well as film production teams and international visitors.

However, due to its limited transportation infrastructure, the village faced challenges in terms of development, as noted by Li Zhunxing, deputy head of Santaishan township.

Li said the village embraced a significant turning point in its development with consecutive assistance funds from Shanghai under the pairing assistance program in 2021 and 2022.

Chudonggua village has utilized more than 25 million yuan ($3.51 million) from the Shanghai-Yunnan assistance program to enhance its infrastructure and renovate the exteriors of its traditional houses, incorporating ethnic elements.

It has also established a high-end B&B hotel, the village's first such hotel. As a result of these efforts, the village now boasts of clean and well-lit streets, with underground electrical systems and rainwater diversion.

With favorable conditions for tourism development and support from the Shanghai-Yunnan cooperation project, the ancient De'ang village has embarked on a journey to explore innovative development models.

Leveraging its abundant ecological and cultural resources, the village is blending them with the unique ethnic allure of the De'ang ethnic group to foster the growth of rural tourism.

A woman of the De'ang ethnic group makes De'ang brocade. (People's Daily Online/Liu Yi)

In late 2022, Chudonggua village received exciting news as the "De'ang sour tea making technique" was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a sub-project of "the traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China."

Today, drinking sour tea in a traditional De'ang wooden building, relishing authentic local cuisine, immersing in the art of ethnic brocade weaving, and delving into the rich historical and cultural heritage of the De'ang people are activities tourists can't miss.

Photo shows De'ang sour tea. (People's Daily Online/Liu Yi)

"In the future, we will collaborate with social organizations and utilize available resources to drive the development of the sour tea industry in Chudonggua village," said Wang Jie, vice mayor of Mangshi city, Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, who was from Shanghai's Qingpu district.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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