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In 2017 I spent more than a month in Guhe, a poverty-stricken village in Fuyang"s Linquan county, to see how officials and villagers had been doing on poverty relief.
Though the village has a registered population of more than 5,000, I saw only a limited number of people staying home - mostly elderly, and kids who are often called left-behind children.
In stark contrast to the shabby brick-tile houses of poverty-stricken villagers, large single-family homes, often two to four stories tall, are everywhere in the village. Many homes are bigger than 500 square meters. However, most of the houses in the village had their doors locked during the entire period I was there.
A 500-square-meter, three-story house costs about 300,000 yuan ($47,257), excluding interior furnishings and decoration. Many of the houses have a nice look on the outside but have unpainted interior walls.
Village cadres told me that most of the big houses belong to villagers who migrate to cities for work. They have saved some money through years of industrious labor, but often cannot afford to buy a city apartment.
When I returned to the village last week, I saw that many of the homeowners had returned home, bringing the village back to vitality. I saw people chatting in front of houses and cars parked along the roads.
Many of the cars were new. According to what I"ve been told by auto sales insiders, the two or three months before Spring Festival tend to be the busiest period for car sales.
Fang Quanchun, who has been working in a garment factory in Beijing for more than seven years, told me that he gained more respect from other villagers when he brought a car of his own back home.
Thanks to the poverty relief measures taken by the government, some concrete roads have been built in Guhe, making it more conducive to driving.
"I was rather surprised to see the new concrete road that passes by my house," Fang said, adding that the road had been in terrible condition for many years.
Fang will spend the holiday in the family"s two-story house, though it is not finished.
In order to better inform the returning villagers of their hometown"s latest development achievements, the Lyuzhai township government, which is responsible for Guhe, organized a tour with dozens of notable villagers for a look around.
The government hopes to persuade villagers to stay home and start their own businesses in the future, so that they can contribute to the local economic development.
"When many villagers left home for work in big cities years ago, the villages were very poor. But nowadays the situation has improved greatly, and we want to make them aware of that," said Han Chao, head of the government of Lyuzhai.
If startups employ poverty-stricken villagers, additional subsidies will be offered, in addition to other favorable policies, including tax reductions and cheap land.
Sometimes, officials worry that the village could become a little too lively. Based on their previous knowledge, they tell the local village cadres to keep a close eye on potential gambling activities during the holiday, as returning villagers have brought money with them and might gamble for fun.