Rural Areas Are the Key to Achieving Moderate Prosperity
"Rural areas are the key to achieving moderate prosperity." This important statement made by President Xi Jinping during a visit to the village of Bohou in Hainan Province on April 9, 2019 struck a chord with over 3,600 villagers. It has since been relayed throughout the country, and inspired hundreds of millions of rural residents to strive to build a moderately prosperous society.
Bohou Village is inhabited by the Li ethnic minority group. An old revolutionary base area under the jurisdiction of the city of Sanya, it is located next to the Yalong Bay International Tourism Zone. Being near to the sea, the land is affected by saltwater throughout the year, resulting in a saline-alkaline soil that supports very few crops. As a result, villagers' hopes for moderate prosperity were long but a distant dream. Nevertheless, in just a few years, life changing improvements have occurred at Bohou. The landscape, the roads, the farms and the villagers are all part of the beautiful story of building moderate prosperity.
A bourgeoning dream in the village
Tan Zhongxian is a native of Bohou Village. After graduating from university 10 years ago, he worked hard in Guangzhou and achieved some success there. Today, he is helping to create wealth in his home village. "Bohou Village is close to Yalong Bay," he told us. "In the past, the roads near the village used to be jammed during peak tourist seasons. We would look on from the village at all the passing tourists but didn't benefit from them." Every year, when Tan returned from Guangzhou at Chinese New Year he would get despondent at the shoddy state of the village.
In 2016, Tan decided to return to Bohou and go into business with his family. He used his savings and a bank loan of 3 million yuan to rebuild and remodel his family house and those of two of his uncles into the Hainajie Homestay. The new business opened in 2017 and was fully booked almost every day in the first year, earning 1 million yuan for his family, which showed other villagers the opportunities open to them.
It has been three years since Tan opened the homestay, and Hainajie has grown in reputation and popularity. Tan runs the business with his two uncles and employs ten other family members, including receptionists, waiting staff, and cleaners, all of whom earn much more than they used to. Tan's aunt Dong Yingzi, who is in her 50s, used to work in the local area and earned only 2,000 yuan a month. After the homestay business was set up, she opened a small supermarket on the first floor of the hotel with Tan's encouragement, and she now earns 150,000 yuan a year from selling coconuts alone. Tan's homestay has guests from all over the world, whose praise of the service they receive makes the whole family very proud.
Choosing the correct path to a good life
Overlooking Bohou Village, Sanya, Hainan Province. The village is home to a community of people of the Li minority. President Xi Jinping visited Bohou Village, April 9, 2013, where he said, "Rural areas are the key to achieving moderate prosperity." This statement has since become deeply rooted in the hearts of the village's more than 3,600 residents, and encouraged China's millions upon millions of people to strive toward moderate prosperity. In 2019, per-capita income among Bohou Village's residents reached 24,520 yuan. PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC COMMITTEE OF JIYANG DISTRICT, SANYA CITY / PHOTO BY MENG ZHIJUN
"If we choose the correct path, villagers can live a good life." Talking about the reasons for his success in opening a homestay, Tan said with emotion, "I took a lot of risks to run a homestay. My success is thanks to the government pointing to the correct path for Bohou's development."
Bohou Village's main industries used to be crop planting and aquaculture, but it remained poor. Working out how to implement President Xi's directive that "rural areas are the key to achieving moderate prosperity" and chart a sustainable course to a moderately prosperous society for Bohou became an important task for the local Party committee and government. In October 2017, the Sanya City Party Committee and Government listened carefully to villagers' opinions and analyzed the regional development plan before deciding to build Bohou into a picturesque village.
Under the planning and guidance of the government, Bohou has concentrated its efforts on developing a homestay tourism industry, which it regards as the most feasible path to prosperity. The government's plan to develop a picturesque village attracted considerable private capital and led to the construction of the Moyanmoyu Inn and other homestays that have garnered a lot of attention online and greatly raised the bar for Bohou homestays in terms of their design, management, and services. By June 2020 there were 44 homestays with a total of 1,300 rooms in Bohou Village. The annual occupancy rate is above 65%, with little availability at peak times. For example, during the Labor Day holiday week at the start of May, the overall occupancy rate at Bohou's homestays was 85.4%, and many of the most popular ones were fully booked. As the homestay industry has grown, Bohou Village has enhanced management of the industry by establishing a homestay association to promote improvements in service quality. As a result, services in Bohou's homestays have become standardized, and cultural, catering, and entertainment businesses have rapidly developed. The village is increasingly vibrant, and the villagers are increasingly prosperous.
In 2019, Bohou's homestays won the most medals in a beautiful rural homestays competition in Hainan Province, and three of its homestays were named in the Top Ten Homestays in Hainan, while two were given the honor of "Hainan Homestay Brands." Between 2013 and 2019, the per capita annual income of Bohou villagers increased from 7,400 to 24,520 yuan.
Broader prospects on the road to moderate prosperity
"When President Xi came to inspect Rose Valley, he urged us to pay back to the land and our home so as to help more of our fellow villagers prosper. The sincerity of the President had a profound effect on me." This was how Ms Yang Ying, a representative at the 13th National People's Congress and chairperson of Hainan Rose Valley Industrial Development Co., Ltd., recalled President Xi's entreaty that day.
Since 2013, Rose Valley in Yalong Bay has developed the Sea of Roses Landscape Area and sought to promote the whole rose industry chain in accordance with President Xi's instructions, thereby helping other villagers prosper. As a result, the rent per mu (0.07 hectare) of land in Bohou has increased from 2,500 yuan per year to 3,370 yuan per year, giving farmers average annual rental income of more than 10,000 yuan. Villagers can also work at Rose Valley or develop other industries. The rose planting cooperative cultivates the flower on an area totaling 2,500 mu (167 hectares) and involves over 200 households, with more than 500 people directly employed in rose planting. "We need to adhere to the path of self-advancement, well-planned development, and acting according to our circumstances to further strengthen the village's collective economy and ensure the construction of a picturesque village and happy villagers," said Su Shaohong, Secretary of the CPC Branch of Bohou Village and Director of the Village Committee regarding the future development of the village. Recently, Bosu (Hainan) Tourism Homestay Management Co., Ltd. was established, indicating that Bohou is focusing on the homestay tourism industry to continuously expand the village's collective economy.
"The village has established a cultural and creative base, a planting base for pitaya, also known as the dragon fruit, and continued to expand specialized tourism projects, such as photography, fishing, bird watching, diving, and camping," said Dr. Li Renda, leader of the Bohou Village Revitalization Team, about the growing sense of confidence in the village. This has created a scene of thriving industry, a livable environment, a culturally advanced rural society, effective governance, and affluence that has slowly unfolded in Bohou, and the villagers are enjoying broader prospects as they progress further on the path to prosperity.
President Xi Jinping's heart-warming words that "rural areas are the key to achieving moderate prosperity" permeate the villagers' happy day-to-day lives. More than 3,600 villagers in Bohou Village are eager to tell their story of prosperity to the President, and invite more people to visit so that they can see the beautiful lives the villagers have created for themselves under the guidance of the President.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 14, 2020)