China's "Astronomy Town" brings new opportunities for economic development
Kedu town in Pingtang county, southwest China's Guizhou province, is home to the planetarium of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), a unique advantage that has brought new opportunities for economic development.
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) [Photo/Xinhua]
Kedu town has 13 administrative villages with a population of 45,000, with the agricultural population previously accounting for 97 percent of this number. In 1994, people who came here to carry out scientific research could still see thatched huts in the villages. At that time, most of the young adults in the town could only make a living by leaving their hometown to find work.
Today, however, people are constantly flowing into this town. Due to the rapid development of highways in Guizhou province, it now takes only an hour and a half to arrive here from Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou.
Kedu has been dubbed the "Astronomy Town" and is an important venue for international astronomy symposiums.
In 2019, the number of tourists coming to Kedu soared to 119,200. According to statistics, since 2016, the number of hotels in Kedu has grown from 6 to 137 and the number of restaurants from 8 to 288.
Peng Xianqun (right), a local resident, shows her embroidery work. [Photo/Lu Peifa]
There used to be 12 families and 63 people living in Dawodang of Pingtang, a local karst depression where the 500-meter radio telescope is located. In June 2009, the 12 families moved to Hongtang Street to begin new lives.
Yang Tianxin is one of those local villagers. Thanks to the renown enjoyed by FAST, more and more researching visitors are driving to Kedu. Yang took advantage of this trend by opening a car repair shop with his wife.
In the town’s Qianjin village, Yang used the compensation for the demolition of his home to build their current home - he and his family live upstairs, while his car repair shop is downstairs.
Yang's monthly income is much higher than it used to be. He prefers his present life, as the traffic in the town extends in all directions and is growing.
Night view of Kedu town. [Photo/Dai Chuanfu]
Today, Pingtang has become an important destination for science research and tourism across the country.
At the same time, Kedu has made great efforts to develop rural tourism, building several beautiful villages so that visitors can experience ethnic minorities’ customs and folk activities, and taste special delicacies and original ecological fruits.
According to Yang Changzhi, head of Luoweng Buyi Ancient Village, thanks to experiential activities such as pushing stone mills, ploughing fields, and bonfire parties, last year the village attracted more than 1,000 visitors, indirectly increasing the incomes of 20 villagers.