"Who Doesn't Say Our Hometown Is Good"
"Who Doesn' t Say Our Hometown Is Good," the famous song from a 1963 film focused on the Menglianggu Battle in May 1947 during the People's War of Liberation, remains a favorite throughout China even today. Its lyrics capture not only the rugged beauty of Yimeng, an old revolutionary base area in Shandong Province, but also the deep bond between the Chinese people and the soldiers of the people's army.
During those grueling revolutionary years, more than 1.2 million people in the Yimeng base area, which is part of Linyi City, provided support to the people's army. More than 210,000 people enlisted in its ranks and took to the battlefield, and more than 100,000 died as heroic martyrs. The base area produced a large number of pioneers and model figures, who passed countless moving revolutionary stories to succeeding generations.
"My arrival in Yimeng immediately brought to mind the heroic years of the revolution," said President Xi Jinping when he visited Linyi City on November 25, 2013. "This revolutionary ground gave rise to the stirring stories of countless heroes, including the 'six sisters of Yimeng,' the 'heroic mother of Yimeng,' and the 'sisters of the people's army.'" "Linyi," said President Xi, "is an old revolutionary area that made important contributions to the victory of the Chinese revolution." He also called for efforts to ensure "the people in old base areas can live better lives."
Keeping in mind these earnest instructions and acting in the Yimeng spirit, the once old revolutionary base area has forged ahead. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the city of Linyi increased its total economic output by 300 billion yuan to 546.55 billion yuan in 2021, becoming one of the top 20 prefecture-level cities in the country. Revenue in its general public budget rose by 30 billion yuan, reaching 40.95 billion yuan in 2021.
Creating strong momentum for rural revitalization
In early summer, the winding mountain roads of Xiacun Township are flanked by thick clusters of cherry trees glittering with crimson fruits. "Our village has planted more than 26.6 hectares of cherries," said Wang Xueliang, a local resident. "Now, on weekends, long queues of cars with passengers coming to pick cherries line the roads." Thanks to these cherries, once-impoverished villagers have been enjoying increasing prosperity in recent years.
Over the last number of years, Linyi has implemented an initiative to boost the incomes of town and village residents based on a "one industry per town, one product per village" approach, in a bid to carve out strengths in distinctive local industries. Cherry orchards in Mishanzi Village and Shangcun Village in Xiacun Township exceed 100 hectares, with the value of annual output reaching 20 million yuan. Tanyi Town has focused on the timber industry, generating fiscal revenue of more than 1 billion yuan in 2021. As one of the first areas in northern China to cultivate tea from the country's south, Zhubian Town in Junan County is busy building up its green and white tea brands. The residents of Honghua Town, dubbed the "home of Chinese knot art," have increased their per capita income by nearly 10,000 yuan solely through Chinese knotting.
From promoting rural tourism, rural e-commerce, Yimeng handicrafts, and intangible cultural heritage, to advancing agricultural product processing, distinctive rural industries, and leading industries, Linyi is making strong strides toward ambitious goals for rural revitalization. In 2021, one-third of the townships and sub-districts of Linyi each generated fiscal revenue of more than 100 million yuan. The per capita disposable income of all Linyi residents has exceeded 30,000 yuan. Thanks to this progress, the quality of its moderate prosperity is improving all the time.
Accelerating development of commerce and logistics
Heavy goods vehicles with full loads exit Linyi Tianyuan International Logistics Park in an orderly procession. "The volume of freight leaving the park each day is about 30,000 tons, and the total volume of logistics is now worth 445 million yuan," said a representative of Tianyuan Logistics.
Yiwu in Zhejiang Province is the logistics center for southern China, while Linyi fills that role for the north of the country. The old revolutionary base area lies amid mountainous terrain that once made it difficult to reach by road or water. After decades of arduous work, Linyi is gaining a reputation in the new era as a national logistics capital and city of commerce. Linyi has 38 logistics parks, operating over 200,000 vehicles, and a dedicated network of routes to all cities at or above the county level nationwide, further burnishing its reputation. As the largest logistics hub in northern China, Linyi increased its road freight volume alone to 369 million tons in 2021, making it a potent driver and support for economic development.
If commerce fueled the rise of the logistics sector, logistics is now returning the favor. To complement a well-developed logistics setup, there is Linyi Wholesale Markets, the largest constellation of markets in the country, comprising more than 120 professional wholesale markets with 60,000 stores and stalls. In 2021, the transaction volume of these markets was 540.26 billion yuan, and total logistics volume hit 806.57 billion yuan. "By building a single market, we can stimulate the development of several industries, enrich a multitude of people, and provide a boost to an entire city. The development of markets has given rise to agglomerations of industries, personnel, resources, and production factors, provided employment for more than a million workers, and driven the overall economic and social development of Linyi," said a Linyi Wholesale Markets representative.
An aerial view of Linyi City, Shandong Province. PHOTO BY SUN YUNHE
Keeping the Yimeng spirit alive
Yimeng is famous for its rugged beauty and talented people, and more importantly as a home of China's revolution. During the revolutionary war years, the Yimeng spirit—characterized by unity between the people and the CPC, the people's deep bond with their army, and their willingness to share a common destiny with both the Party and the army—was cast. Today, the Yimeng spirit continues to inspire Linyi's more than 10 million people to keep their revolutionary heritage alive and pursue high-quality development.
"Over the years, I have continued to tell the story of the old revolutionary base of Yimeng and describe the momentous changes sweeping Linyi in the new era, holding more than 3,000 voluntary publicity activities in total," said Yu Aimei. She is the granddaughter of Wang Huanyu, the "heroic mother of Yimeng" who voluntarily cared for the children of soldiers in the people's army during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. She is also the daughter of Zhang Shuzhen, who became known as one of the "sisters of the people's army" for her efforts in helping her mother-in-law, Wang Huanyu, during the war. In 2016, Yu helped establish an association to promote the continuation of the Yimeng spirit, which has recruited over 300 members to its activities.
More than 100,000 CPC members work at the community level to deepen ties with the people, and nearly 10,000 CPC members have served as first secretaries in villages. Over the years, Party members and officials in Linyi have been deeply committed to engaging with people at the community level and on the front lines, and have strived to be of use to them and do good for them. These efforts have also provided strong impetus for the development of the old revolutionary base area of Yimeng.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13-16, 2022)