Two Sessions highlight "key year" to reaching centenary goal
Gao Aiping finally got his washing machine fully functioning as it was supposed to, as he and his family have moved into a new home with running water.
"We used to only spin wet clothes with it in winter," said the 56-year-old.
The Gaos had lived in a mountain village in north China's Shanxi Province. There was no running water, not to mention central heating or gas supply.
Whenever it snowed, they would get stuck and could not even shop for food.
Last year, Gao's family and 161 other households scattered in five mountain villages were relocated to a newly built community in Linxian County, Lyuliang City.
The Gaos successfully escaped poverty, with an annual income of more than 70,000 yuan (about 10,440 U.S. dollars) from working at the afforestation cooperative and a nearby vegetable greenhouse, and subsidies for relocation.
China has vowed to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020. Alleviating poverty through relocation is one of many ways to reach the goal.
Eliminating rural poverty is considered the most difficult in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, one of China's two centenary goals, with 2019 a "key year" to realize this goal.
Topics on poverty alleviation and rural development are expected to come under the spotlight during the annual sessions of China's national legislature and political advisory body.
As this year is essential for winning the tough battle against poverty by 2020, China aimed to reduce the rural poor population by more than 10 million.
China has lifted 82.39 million rural poor out of poverty in the past six years, with the rural poor population down from 98.99 million in 2012 to 16.6 million last year.
"Wanna get rid of poverty and become better off fast? Try e-commerce!" reads a slogan at an e-commerce startup space in Anjiazhuang township, Linxian County.
Kang Xuping from a poverty-stricken family joined last year. The 30-year-old sold soybeans grown by local villagers.
"Our online sales exceeded 1 million yuan (149,145 U.S. dollars) last year, with a net profit of more than 100,000 yuan (14,914 U.S. dollars)," he said.
"I'm sure my family will get out of poverty this year with the help of e-commerce," he said.
E-commerce also boosted sales of red dates. Nearly 70 percent of the county's annual red date output of 150 million kg are sold on the Internet.
The county now has 354 such e-commerce startup bases, and plans to increase the number to 1,000 this year, according to Chen Xiaolin, director of the county's poverty alleviation office.
"The Internet Plus model is an eye-catching trend. E-commerce in rural areas has made it possible for local specialties and handicrafts in rural areas to enter the urban market," said Zhao Xiaode, professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
"The Internet Plus model helps forge new businesses in China's rural areas and injects new impetus to rural modernization, which is essential to building a moderately prosperous society," he said.
Big data work well, too.
In Minqing County, Fujian Province, Wang Yongyuan no longer has to worry about his farm when he is away.
With a smart phone, he can spread the sunshade net, turn on ventilation fans and spray water when a greenhouse gets too hot.
Sensors in the greenhouses help collect data on temperature, humidity and light, with which he can analyze the relevance among climate, fertilizer, spray and output.
"The future of agriculture lies in smart and customized farming with novel farm machinery," he said.
Shen Jilan, 89, who served all previous 12 terms of the National People's Congress (NPC) since 1954, is ready to attend the second plenary session of the 13th NPC.
Before her trip to Beijing, she knocked on the doors of fellow villagers to find out what their hopes were for a "beautiful village" in Xigou Village, Pingshun County in Shanxi.
"There are many villages such as Xigou in China and the government should invest more to improve the infrastructure and build a pleasant environment there, and turn lucid waters and lush mountains into invaluable assets," she said.
Xigou has more than 1,600 hectares of trees in the mountains. Shen has been considering of making the forest a tourist attraction to help her village prosper.
China unveiled a three-year plan to improve the rural living environment last year, defining it as an important task for the country to accomplish the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. It also aims to lift 12 million people out of poverty through tourism during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).
"I hope to see 'beautiful villages,'" Shen said. "As long as we unite as one and make arduous efforts, a moderately prosperous society will be built on time."