Now Government Rich, But Not the Farmers – Outlook Magazine
In a poor remote county, the government gets rich but the poor remain poor. Translated from Outlook (‰∫ÜÊúõ) magazine, via sina.com (photo: a schoolroom with peeling walls and glassy government buildings, from sina.com):
In the old days, Jingbian (ÈùñËæπ) County has been known as a poor hinterland in northern Shaanxi Province thanks to ravaging sand storms, droughts and persistent poverty. But not any more. The latest findings of oil, coal and gas have changed the landscape, well mostly in favor of those in power. A new 9-story government building with two 4-floor flanks is now standing to demonstrate the county’s newly-gained economic might. At the same time, a lot of the poor still cannot afford to move out of shacks or cave homes that could collapse at any minute.
County Secretary Ma Hongyu (È©¨ÂÆèÁéâ) proudly says, Jingbian has found 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 100 million tons of petroleum and 3.5 billion tons of coal. Last year gas and oil productions respectively were 5 billion cubic meters and 3.6 million tons. The county GDP rose 20% in 2006 to 12.7 billion yuan, ranking the fourth in Shaanxi Province.
Good cars now drive around town and nice restaurants and hotels line the streets.
Still, many farmers live in dangerous caves. “No matter how well the county seat is built, we farmers are still farmers, living off of potatoes and goats,” Song Haihe said at his village of Shuilupan (Ê∞¥Ë∑ØÁïî).
In 2001, there were 97,000 people living below the povery line. Six years after poverty relief efforts, still 50,000 people are poor, or 1/5 of the farming population. One third of the farmers don’t have safe drinking water. [Full Text in Chinese]