Shandong's country road naming initiative maps pathways of progress

(Xinhua) 10:35, March 02, 2024

JINAN, March 1 (Xinhua) -- As the Spring Festival break drew to an end, migrant worker Guo Diancai prepared to bid farewell to his beloved home, perhaps for another year.

Before leaving, he opened the GPS map on his mobile phone to confirm once again that the country road leading to his doorstep had a name, which he believes, provides a tangible link to his cherished memories.

"The next time homesickness strikes, I'll find solace in recalling a place with not just a village name, but also a road name and a doorplate number," Guo said. "Having all these details in one place gives me a 'location' to anchor my longing for home."

Guo hails from Guozhuang Village in Yanggu County, located in Liaocheng, a city in east China's Shandong Province. Yanggu is among the localities in the Ministry of Civil Affairs' pilot project aimed at naming previously unnamed country roads and offering related name-based services.

In recent years, this county has mobilized more than 1,000 community workers and volunteers to screen out 560 nameless roads and 25 named roads without road signs across the county.

Villages are encouraged to propose names for their roads from the provided list, drawing inspiration from local traditions and characteristics. The proposed names will then be forwarded to the county authorities for official approval and subsequent installation of road signs. Once approved, these names will be linked with the doorplate numbers of rural households.

Guozhuang is known for its glass noodle (a type of transparent noodle made from starch and water) industry, with some 30 production mills scattered across six roads. However, the nameless roads often bewildered people coming from outside, hindering social interactions among locals and visitors.

"When businesspeople would come to buy our products, they often had to navigate the area by knocking on doors and seeking directions, or else, we had to send someone to meet them at the village entrance and guide them to the mills," Guo Jinshang, Party secretary of the Guozhuang Village, recalled. "It's very inconvenient."

Today, road signs have been placed at the starting points and intersections of country roads. According to Zhang Baoyun, head of the civil affairs bureau of Yanggu County, guideposts have also been installed at regular intervals, providing directions and indicating the distance to nearby villages.

Guozhuang villagers have infused their hopes for a brighter future into the names they've chosen for the country roads, such as "Harmony Street" and "Prosperity Road." The two roads with the most glass noodle mills along their paths have been aptly named "Entrepreneurship Road" and "Integrity Road."

After naming 560 country roads and setting up or updating over 1,000 road signs, Yanggu County has digitally integrated the names of these roads and rural public service facilities into GPS apps. Villagers have also been encouraged to upload the addresses of their small businesses -- ranging from rural hospitality and catering services to farming and animal breeding bases, and rural cooperatives -- to these apps, thereby facilitating the local economy.

"After fellow villagers uploaded the factory address information, the village's popularity as a glass noodle hub has soared," said Guo Lichang, a local with more than a decade of experience in this industry. He added that over the past two months, the village has sold about 2 million kg of glass noodles, up 700,000 kg from the same period last year.

With clear addresses for rural households, goods from across the country can now reach their doorsteps without any problem. "Now, I can easily navigate through the villages using my mobile phone, which also saves our customers a lot of hassle," said Wang Peijun, a delivery personnel who works with the Yanggu County branch of China Post Group Corporation Limited.

According to Shandong provincial civil affairs authorities, the province has recently assigned approximately 7,000 rural place names and installed 16,000 guideposts bearing these names.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Wu Chaolan)


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