Rural area shining example of development

By LI LEI in Anji county, Zhejiang | | Updated: 2023-06-06 13:57
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A photo shows two boats parked outside a restaurant in Hengshanwu village of Anji county, Zhejiang province, on June 5, 2023. [Photo by Zhang Wei/For]

An architect in Zhejiang province wanted to breathe new life into his almost deserted hometown - Hengshanwu village. This desire is what led him to decide to turn his village into a homestay resort.

"I am a returnee, and people here call me village chief," Chen Gu told a group of visitors as he showed them around his brainchild Villa & Resort, a cluster of homestays, cafes and nightclubs tucked away in the rugged mountains of Anji county.

The 52-year-old pointed to an outdoor billboard illustrating the project. It carried a selection of photos reminiscent of the village's past: muddy dirt roads, garbage pileups, stinky waterways and bare hilltops due to mining activities from more than 20 years ago.

"It was once a 'hollowed village'," he said, referring to the exodus of younger people that has beset many rural communities across China.

"When I took over the village in 2012, just a few older residents were left."

Despite the downsides, the village resides at a place that is within three hours' drive from most major cities in Zhejiang, as well as in its neighbors Jiangsu province and Shanghai. The newly built highways and tunnels as part of a province-wide campaign to foster urban-rural equalities in recent decades make travel possible.

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