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Witnessing the rapid transformation of Guizhou

Updated: 2017-11-27 17:14 By Bruce Connolly (chinadaily.com.cn)


Witnessing the rapid transformation of Guizhou

Site of 1935 Conference Zunyi. [Photo by Bruce Connolly/chinadaily.com.cn]

Parks featured prominently in Zunyi. The city winds between a series of forested hills such as Fenghuangshan National Forest Park, literally rising above the city centre. This mixture of steeply rising green topography astride several natural waterways alongside low-rise traditional-style buildings creates a very pleasant, often photogenic scene.

Zunyi is closely associated with China's revolutionary history, particularly some of the hardest moments during the legendary Long March. Today this drives a tourism sector pivotal to the local economy. Central to this is the Site of the 1935 Zunyi Conference, which is the city's main tourism draw.

Approximately an hour from Zunyi, along a valley presenting so many fascinating aspects of rural life, lies Huamao, a village and surrounding area hailed as an example of successful poverty reduction. Heading there it was obvious that considerable effort had gone into creating an appealing environment. Cycleways followed rivers to a guesthouse built in a traditional architectural style and to areas where visitors could learn from local people about rural skills and life. One area featured renovated traditional wooden buildings within a semi-forested area, where it was so fascinating I could easily have spent hours photographing. However the main area we had come to see had, in June 2015, been visited by President Xi Jinping. Huamao is regarded as a model example of rural poverty alleviation. Although a few older wooden buildings remained as reminders, the farmers and villagers today live in modern homes constructed in a style encompassing local traditions. President Xi had walked through the area while shown bamboo and pottery workshops, greenhouses, local financial centres and farmer Wang Zhiqiang's household. That home, now a featuring a restaurant, is the focal point of visitor interest. President Xi was quoted as saying there that "A good life is created with one's own hands, so poverty is nothing to fear. If we have determination and confidence, we can overcome any difficulty."