Archive for Category: "Society & Culture"
In a garden along a narrow village road, Zhang Fie Feng plucked weeds amid budding trees while her 5-year-old granddaughter marched down the rows, ignoring her grandmother’s requests to collect discarded dandelions. Zhang, 56, is one of the women of Xiejiaqiao, a village where many women’s lives were defined by the social and economic environment in which they grew up.
In the mountain village of Xiejiaqiao, a line snakes through the center of the downtown crossroads as residents line up for an annual health screening given by doctors from a nearby town. By 10 a.m. on June 15, more than 400 people—half of the village population—have visited the clinic. As the line continues to grow, people begin to push others out of queue to secure a spot away from the rain.
With music blaring from speakers connected to a laptop and strobe lights flashing, women lined up facing the same direction in four evenly spaced rows. Dancing in unison under the night sky, they stepped right, spun around, and put a hand out to the side. Texas-style line dancing? Not by a long shot.
Forty years ago, entertainment took a distant back seat to political rhetoric, as television was just one of many mediums used by the Communist Party to perpetuate ideas like “class struggle” and resistance to “Western imperialism” to galvanize generations of Chinese. Today, the Party’s line is economic improvement, a furnace of productivity that can burn through labor as fast as it does money and the environment.
Wang Zhongwei, a 49-year-old rice farmer from the Eastern Chinese village of Xiejiaqiao, can still remember when his family struggled to produce enough food for one meal a day. His 19-year-old-son Wang Yang, who grew up in the same village, never had to worry if he would have enough to eat. He can barely remember a time without the Internet.
Ding Xijiu sits in his small kitchen, gazing out a window facing the street where seven wooden boxes line the small area in front of his house. Hundreds of bees quietly fly in and out of the boxes, carrying pollen down from the yellow cole flowers that dot the mountains around Xiejiaqiao, a village near Hangzhou.
Like teens in the United States, 18-year-old Wu Jinxing relishes the idea of leaving home someday. Unlike even his peers elsewhere in China, however, Wu, who was born and raised in Xiejiaqiao, a rural village of 800 residents outside Hangzhou, might not have a choice if he wants to find a wife.
As middle- and upper-class Americans increasingly seek out organic, local and sustainably produced foods, the prosperous villagers of Xiejiaqiao outside the Chinese city of Hangzhou are eagerly abandoning the hard labor and time commitment of subsistence farming for a market-based food system.
The poetry of Walt Whitman has lasted more than 150 years. The poetry of Shakespeare more than 400. Both are outdone by the Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who wrote more than 2,000 years ago and is still remembered in China where a major national holiday, the Dragon Boat Festival, is held annually in his honor.
At 20,000 RMB ( $3,080 USD) income per capital in a population of 801, the village of Xiejiaqiao has the highest GDP in Henglu Township, which is made up of seven communities located in the mountain greenery of Zhejiang province. Part of that economic success stems from the village’s prosperous pecan and bamboo production–crops that couldn’t thrive without the Yuxi River.