Xiadang Village: Fairyland in the mountains
Updated 10:53, 07-Mar-2022
In the Field

Editor's note: After eradicating absolute poverty in 2020, China is on the path of realizing rural revitalization. In the video series "From the Soil," CGTN invites development experts to China's rural regions to investigate the methods used to head toward rural revitalization. In the second episode, Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, a professor at Tsinghua University and former Special Economic Adviser to the President of Brazil, goes to Xiadang Village of Fujian Province to explore the code of rural revitalization. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Like many underdeveloped places in the world, poverty has long plagued remote areas of China. But things are looking up. The engine driving growth across China has now reached the nation's mountains.

My name is Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira. I'm a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a former Special Economic Adviser to the President of Brazil. For twenty years, I have been doing research in the area of economic development. Ten years ago, I set my sights on China to find out how this country has been able to lift millions out of extreme poverty, breathe new life into rural areas and their people, and realize rural revitalization.

I have decided to see in real practice how China is lifting the lives of its people. In my quest, I heard about a special place in Fujian Province, in Ningde City, called Xiadang Village.

Built on a mountain facing Xiuzhu creek, with a charming wooden-arch corridor bridge across the green water, the area around Xiadang is beautiful. Surrounded by peace and tranquility, it's like a hidden gem, lost land in the mountains. Known as "the Siberia in Shouning County of Fujian Province," Xiadang was in the dark ages for centuries, and only had electricity and opened to traffic in 1991.

But, as the old saying goes, "The early bird catches the worm." It's one of the earliest birds in the fight against poverty, blending traditional industry with modern technology. The per capita net income of local farmers has risen from 186 yuan in 1988 to more than 20,000 yuan in 2020 – an increase of more than a hundredfold.

Xiadang is best known for its tea, and the place has been cultivating tea for more than 300 years. The tea industry accounts for 80 percent of the village's income.

The past apperance of Xiadang Village /CGTN

The past apperance of Xiadang Village /CGTN

In tireless efforts to shed poverty, Xiadang has gathered a cooperative of tea farmers that has helped them look to a better future.

"We are applying a business model that integrates groups of stakeholders – companies, cooperatives and farmers. Our company is mainly responsible for working with other companies. The cooperative is mainly responsible for managing farmers and buying tea from them to sell, so they do not have to find buyers themselves. This means the cooperative and companies are doing their parts to expand their markets, while tea farmers focus on managing tea cultivation," said Xu Yuerong, deputy general manager of Menglong Travel Co. Ltd.

What's more, Xu highlighted: "When tea picking season arrives, the company will buy the tea leaves from the farmer members at a comparatively higher-than-the-market price, and process them into tea products to sell. After the tea products are sold, tea farmers also get a bonus, amounting to 20 percent of the value of their tea. Hence, the tea farmers not only make money by selling tea leaves, but also dividends from selling tea products by the company."

Visiting the factory, I could see how they are building their capabilities by tapping into technology and innovation. This was an amazing practical class on how industrial tools can help raise living standards of the most remote locations in the world.

Chen Shangyou, an online celebrity, and his partner are selling agriculture products on a live-streaming platform. /CGTN

Chen Shangyou, an online celebrity, and his partner are selling agriculture products on a live-streaming platform. /CGTN

However, getting rid of poverty is far from enough for people there, who are now ushering in a new stage of development: rural revitalization. I was amazed to see the farmers and the cooperative team talking to me about national and international markets, and also something that I could not have expected to hear in that location – branding.

In Xiadang, they have created a local brand called "Taste of the Country Life." It has been selling all over China, and it will soon be available overseas.

"We established the 'Taste of the Country Life' brand here in this county, and we've put a lot of agricultural products under this brand to sell," Xu added.

As a result, countywide sales revenue of Shouning County has been risen to more than 500 million yuan. But, this could not have been accomplished without the help of technology. In their own words, "the excellent tea produced by 'Taste of Country Life' can not only be tasted, but also seen."

"This customized digital tea garden display shows the poverty alleviation efforts of our brand 'Taste of Country Life,'" Wang Judi, chairman of Dishuiyuan Association, shows the high-tech platform to me. "By clicking on this mobile phone app, you can see the whole process of our one-stop service, from planting and picking and management to processing. You can log in and scan the control panel to see our tea garden. You see, this is how our tea garden looks like. And all procedures are visualized and can be checked out anytime, anywhere."

Xiadang is now seeing speedy progress through offering superior high mountain tea. Tea has made Xiadang's people prosperous, but the village's economic engine is fueled by more than just tea.

Riding the wave of 5G technology and the internet, people here can sell their carefully-produced products across the country with just a smartphone.

As for Chen Shangyou, an online celebrity on Live Show, by shooting videos about rural life every day, they draw a sense of homesickness and yearning for rural life from people in the cities, or people who've already left the rural areas. "They become more interested in us, and follow us online. After they put trust in us, they buy these high-quality products from us," said Chen.

The night scene of Xiadang Village. /CGTN

The night scene of Xiadang Village. /CGTN

During my stay in Xiadang, I have seen with my own eyes, feelings and emotions, how important is to improve the life of its people. Xiadang way - they have in the center cooperation between central government, provincial government, city government, community and companies, all focusing to improve the life of its people. The commitment that Xiadang shows to improve the life of its people is expressed in bringing technology, innovation, internet connection, 5G to its people.

Many people would ask themselves if the Xiadang successful model can be replicated, can be copied. I would say, no. Many cities around the world in Latin America, Africa and my hometown Brazil, can be inspired by the Xiadang model. Before I arrive in Xiadang, I had many questions about how to solve poverty alleviation, rural revitalization, and develop at the same time. What I found here in Xiadang is not a secret, but a path to the development. People work hard together, challenge their limits, and put people at first is the secret of this village, deep down in the mountains of Fujian.

Progress has brought a sense of well-being to Xiadang's people. The elderly tell me they live a carefree life, and the children are joyful, seeming to live in their own natural fun park, but with less hustle and bustle. Besides enjoying the improving economy, people here also enjoy a rich cultural life. As one of the places that still has the Fujian puppet show – part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage preservation list since 2012 – it's normal here for people to sit back and relax while watching a show.

At night, when the lights are on, the whole village looks like a glittering dragon, hovering in the mountains. From the once impoverished remote village to the thriving dragon of today, Xiadang has enjoyed the fruits of development. To keep development in a sustainable way, it's necessary to take every step on the road of rural revitalization, and thus find common prosperity.

Letters Live.

Dear Beloved Wife and Daughter,

Tonight is my last night in Xiadang. Over the past week, I've experienced unforgettable moments and have met incredible, down-to-earth people. I've witnessed people taken out of poverty and given a new chance in their lives. I've seen how development policies can change the lives of many ordinary people. I hope I can soon bring you and our daughter here so that you can also experience the same emotions, and also to learn how important it is to care for people. I hope that together we can witness more changes like this in China.

Love you so much,


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