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A Model Village Called Haojiaqiao

By Yin Xia and Xiao Liang Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2022-10-28

A large stone monument stands at the entrance of Haojiaqiao Village in Suide County, Shaanxi Province. It bears seven eye-catching red characters that read: "Haojiaqiao: Rural Model." The statue provides a glimpse into the special identity and character of this small village nestled among the hills and ravines of the Loess Plateau.



The impressive title carries the revolutionary memories and history of the village. In 1943, during the great production campaign, Xi Zhongxun, secretary of the CPC Prefectural Committee of Suide in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region, led a research team to the village. After his visit, Xi instructed the whole region to launch a movement to learn from Haojiaqiao and from the model farmer Liu Yuhou and to promote the "Haojiaqiao experience." The following year, the Suide Prefectural Committee awarded the title of "Model Village" to Haojiaqiao.

Once a role model, it remains shining today. On February 25, 2021, at the National Conference to Review the Fight Against Poverty and Commend Individuals and Groups Involved, President Xi Jinping presented the award for "National Model of Poverty Eradication" to Liu Zhenxi, secretary of the Haojiaqiao Party branch, who accepted the award on behalf of the village.

Whether as a rural model in the revolutionary war years or a national model for poverty alleviation in the new era, Haojiaqiao, a mountain village with a strong revolutionary heritage, has always been a pacesetter in moving with the times and has continued forging ahead down through the generations. "

This is a remarkable feat as there are only ten such places in China. These titles are truly deserved," said President Xi. "Coming 78 years apart, they are not a flash in the pan, but the result of building on progress to scale new heights." On September 14, 2021, during a tour of Shaanxi Province, President Xi visited Haojiaqiao Village and attended an exhibition on the village history, inspected the village environment, and learned about the development of local industries and villagers' lives. He fully endorsed and commended Haojiaqiao on the progress it had made in the current era.

"Our avenues are broad and wide, our cavedwellings big and bright. We built greenhouses in the ravines and orchards on the barren hills. We've got a school and nursery and care home for the elderly...." Composed by the villagers of Haojiaqiao, this doggerel gives words to the sights President Xi saw during his time in Haojiaqiao. It vividly depicts not just the changes in the village but the new countryside that is emerging in China in the new era.

The people of Haojiaqiao have gone from working on the arid barren land to embracing prospects for local industries. Like many villages in the southern part of northern Shaanxi, the secluded Haojiaqiao was long hindered by many unfavorable factors, including poor transportation, climate, and resources. Haojiaqiao intensively farmed the little arable land it had and was slightly better-to-do than the surrounding villages. Yet it still had a poverty headcount ratio of 30.7 percent in 2014. "Many years ago, Liu Yuhou devoted himself to the booming production campaign in a spirit of enduring hardship. We needed to carry forward this spirit to tackle the tough tasks of poverty alleviation," said Liu Zhenxi, secretary of the village Party branch. In 2015, after Liu took office, he led a team of people to explore every possible means to spur development and grow local industries, and gradually promoted the integration and leasing of land plots. The village established a collective shareholding cooperative, set up a fruit orchard, built greenhouses, opened sheep and pig farms, and built a photovoltaic power plant. This gave rise to a distinctive modern agricultural industrial system, which has greatly broadened the channels for villagers to increase their incomes. In particular, the village has relied on its rich revolutionary resources to promote tourism. It has become the "golden key" unlocking the door to prosperity for the entire village. Thanks to favorable policies, hard work, and good fortune, all impoverished residents in Haojiaqiao Village exited poverty by the end of 2020, and the per capita disposable income of the village reached 12,500 yuan in 2021. "In the past few years, there have been great changes in our family and in the village as a whole. Things just keep getting better," said Hou Zhirong, a resident of Haojiaqiao. Like so many others who have shaken off poverty and are moving toward prosperity, Hou, who welcomed President Xi into his home during his trip to Haojiaqiao, deeply believes that he has "a bright future to strive for."

The residents of Haojiaqiao have transitioned from holding ambitious aspirations to making them a reality. For a long time, difficulties such as attending school, seeking medical treatment, and accessing elderly care were worries for the villagers. People yearned for a life of convenience like their counterparts in the city. Since 2017, thanks to financial support from higher levels, the village gradually built a system of public services with a primary school, kindergarten, center for seniors, clinic, service center, and supermarket. The senior center is equipped with a restaurant, entertainment room, study room, lounge, and staff of professional chefs and service personnel. It focuses on providing meals and daily care for people over 65, thus ensuring care and contentment for elderly people. The village clinic provides basic medical services, so villagers no longer have to leave the village to seek treatment for minor illnesses. The kindergarten and school provide free nutritious lunches and nap facilities, as well as a school-bus service. They have enrolled more than 200 local children so far.

Haojiaoqiao has also promoted rural culture and civility. For many years, it carried forward its revolutionary heritage and labor model spirit. Villagers endured hardships, worked hard, and followed simple folk customs. Entering a new era, however, they also have higher aspirations for the non-material side of life. The village collective has funded the renovation of its old revolutionary site to promote revolutionary culture and bring new shine to the village as an educational base for its glorious history. Great energy and care have been poured into building a village culture hall and promoting ancient family virtues, revolutionary heritage, and new contemporary practices in various ways. The village has also hosted various events, including presenting awards for best neighbor, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, and others. It has encouraged residents to strive for excellence and goodness and cultivated positive village customs and folkways. The village has also built a "refuse bank" and a "loving care supermarket" to assist those in need, helping to further improve the living environment and beauty of the village. Today in Haojiaqiao, signs of vitality are ubiquitous—the skies, the lands, and the waters are pollution-free, the roads are paved, local industries are thriving, and people are growing more prosperous.

"It is my hope that you will continue to carry forward fine traditions and feel the Party's encouragement, listen to its instructions, and follow its lead. Keep daring to be pioneers, continue working hard, and strive to build Haojiaqiao Village into a model for rural revitalization." This was the earnest message that Xi Jinping left with villagers as he departed Haojiaqiao on the afternoon ofSeptember 14, 2021.

Designated a demonstration village for rural revitalization in Suide County, Haojiaqiao is steadily implementing a number of key projects related to long-term development this year. These include a tourist reception and service area, a homestay and commercial area, initiatives to build a beautiful village with a strong revolutionary heritage, dry farming and water-saving agriculture, and the transformation and upgrading of greenhouses. With each local industry project it approves and each license for a joint development base it awards, Haojiaqiao is sowing the seeds for the future of rural revitalization.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13-16, 2022)