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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Revitalizing rural areas
    2016-03-14  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    CHINA’s staggering industrialization and urbanization has led to the massive exodus of robust rural laborers to cities, leaving the old and young behind, which, in turn, has resulted in economic and social decline in rural areas.

    The number of so-called “natural villages” plummeted from 3.6 million in 2000 to 2.7 million in 2010, according to recent reports, a 28 percent decrease over 10 years. With no updated data available, we can deduce by the rate that about 400,000 more have vanished since 2010.

    The number of “administrative villages” is smaller, but the rate of disappearance is more or less the same. Roughly 20 administrative villages disappear from the map daily.

    Gone with the young laborers is vitality. In a mountain village in Hebei Province, the youngest laborers are a 46-year-old couple, the other residents being either elderly or children.

    The lack of strong laborers has left fertile farmlands empty. The shrinking number of students has led to the closure of schools and thousands of villages and towns have been deserted and even gone extinct.

    While lamenting the extinction of villages and towns, we understand that this is an inevitable outcome of industrialization and urbanization — the decline of rural communities and the aging of rural population is a worldwide phenomenon.

    It would be futile to try and force farmers to stay at their ancestral homes and maintain their loyalty to the land. It is human nature to seek a better life.

    The only way to lure the rural population back home and to draw city residents to rural areas is to revitalize rural areas in innovative ways.

    Zhejiang Province is conducting some original experiments in this regard. The province, one of China’s most active reform pioneers and home to thousands of vibrant private enterprises such as Alibaba, has unveiled an ambitious program to create 100 provincial-level “featured towns” across the province in five years. Thirty-seven such towns have been selected.

    As the name suggests, each “featured town” has its distinctive features or competitive strength in a particular area.

    Zhejiang has been historically renowned for its great variety of specialties at different locations, such as Hangzhou’s Longjing Tea, Shaoxing’s rice wine, Huzhou’s silk products and Longquan’s celadon ware and swords.

    The people of Zhejiang have created numerous “featured towns” since China began to reform and open up. These towns developed numerous industrial clusters, each specialized in a certain product, such as Shaoxing’s textiles, Haining’s leather products, Shengzhou’s ties, Yongkang’s hardware, Zhuji’s socks and Leqing’s low-voltage apparatus. Most of these products dominated not only the home market, but the overseas market as well.

    The combined industrial output of these featured towns accounted for over 50 percent of the province’s total value last year.

    

    These towns, however, plagued by rising costs, surplus productivity, and outdated technology, require industrial upgrading. The emergence of the Internet, Big Data and cloud computing have offered some of the towns chances of revival.

    The newly emerging “featured towns” will be innovation-driven, focusing on high-tech, high-end design and online financing and service.

    One of such towns is Yunxi, a tiny town near Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province. Its 3.5-square-km territory has become China’s first Cloud Computing Town, with 180 cloud-computing-related enterprises having settled down there.

    The “Dream Town” located at Hangzhou’s Xixi Wetland Park, where Alibaba is headquartered, is a paradise for ambitious entrepreneurs, where they can make their dreams come true with the help of venture capital funds and incubators.

    Some towns have their natural advantages: picturesque scenery and beautiful ecological environments. With the slogan “Green mountains and clear rivers are gold mines,” Zhejiang has placed great emphasis on protecting the natural environment and has made remarkable achievements.

    Lush trees, clear water and fresh air make many mountain villages hot holiday resorts, attracting city dwellers and keeping local villagers busy making money.

    Armed with the Internet and other modern technology, traditional industries are beginning to regain vitality. So are ancient villages and towns. Thousands of villagers have returned home to make money.

    Hopefully, such featured towns and villages will mushroom around China.

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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