About 200 km north of China’s national capital Beijing, the elevation rises abruptly, creating an obstacle for the path of people’s prosperity.
Dubbed the “Poverty Belt” around Beijing, the arid plateau and mountain pasture area are mainly administrated by the cities of Zhangjiakou, Chengde and Baoding in Hebei Province.
In the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Beijing and Tianjin have taken on the poverty elimination in Hebei as their responsibility.
In the year 2019, Beijing and Tianjin provided 1.1 billion yuan (145.8 million U.S. dollars) in poverty-relief funds to assist the development of 28 counties in Hebei.
Zhangbei, located two hours away from Beijing, is one of 10 counties in the poverty Belt.
It has received 200 million yuan in poverty-relief funds from the Xicheng district government in downtown Beijing.
Sun Guiying, a 56-year-old villager of Desheng in Zhangbei, moved into a two-story house in May 2019, bidding farewell to her mud-brick house in the mountain area. The poverty relief fund has helped build new homes for all the impoverished households in the village.
Among 413 households in the village, 212 households like Sun’s lived in poverty, relying on meagre farm yields for food.
For Sun, it is not just the new house that has changed her life, but a 5-km road built last summer. The road connects the isolated village to a national highway that brings urban tourists to the grassland resort of Zhangbei. The resort has won fame by hosting the Chinese “Glastonbury” rock music festival.
When Sun moved into the new house last year, she and her family decided to use their spare rooms as guestrooms, taking advantage of the summer music festival to develop a catering business.
During the three months of the 2019 summer tourist season, Sun earned 24,000 yuan from her guesthouse business.
“The revenue is higher than the yearly income of sugarbeet farming in the past,” said the woman.
By the end of 2019, 70 percent of the villagers have gotten involved in the catering business.
Li Zhijun, Party chief of Desheng Village, is an official from the Hebei provincial bureau of industry and information technology.
He was assigned to Desheng to ensure that the village’s poverty relief work will meet the national target of wiping out extreme poverty in 2020.
The dry and cold plateau region is rich in sunshine. With Li’s efforts, the provincial bureau of industry and information technology installed rows of photovoltaic panels by roadsides in the village and built two photovoltaic power stations with a total capacity of 500 kilowatts in the village.
“Villagers call the photovoltaic poles ‘iron crops,’ as they bring in more than 600,000 yuan a year from power generation sent to the grid,” said Li.
He said with the income, the village allocated 3,000 yuan a year to each impoverished households and 1,500 yuan to other households.
At the end of 2018, Desheng Village took off its “poverty cap,” as the whole village was lifted out of poverty. In 2019, the per capita net income of Desheng Village reached 13,700 yuan.