In mountainous Miyun, a suburb of Beijing about 120 kilometers from Tiananmen Square, farmers have taken advantage of their location along a highway from the district center to where Beijing outdoors people like to scale cliffs on weekends. Farmers living along the road have converted their homes into guesthouses that charge 40 yuan (US$4.95) for a night’s stay and meals, saving the economy-conscious climbers a more expensive stay in a hotel farther away. “The farmers understand the cliff climbers, so they’ve set up these guesthouses,” said Zhang Qing, a grateful climber and equipment seller from Beijing.
Mainland China’s otherwise impoverished farmers aren’t the only ones who understand traffic means business. Consultants and international development banks say larger companies, including multinationals, are looking at China’s growing number of rural roads as places to set up shop.