The Road Ahead for China
Jason Burke examines what newly constructed roadways are doing for China’s rural areas. From The Guardian:
A road has finally come to Xin Cun, a hamlet perched on a sandy ridge beneath a blank grey sky in China’s Shaanxi province. On one side of the village, the slope slips away to a wooded valley. On the other, the haphazard apple orchards stretch down to a river, swollen after recent sharp and heavy rains. In either direction the horizon is a mass of similar hills, valleys and apple trees.
But this is no rural idyll. The river leads to an oil refinery and a vast new chemical factory. It is the latter that has brought the road – and its trucks coughing exhaust fumes into the heavy, humid air 24 hours a day. They pass a few metres from the doors of the house of Dong Pang’s parents-in-law.
Dong Pang, in his neat trousers and clean shirt, stands out among the farmers of the village. He is visiting his wife’s former home and is quick to point out that he now lives in the city of Xi’an in an apartment and works as a paediatrician. He sits gingerly on the edge of the single bed in the one-roomed home, a vaulted single chamber with patchy electricity and sanitation which, built half into the hillside, is known as a “cavehouse”.
“I like to come back and visit the simple people of the countryside,” he says.