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Yunnan province plans to raise annual incomes

2014-01-28 09:27 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

Yunnan province, one of the least well-off areas in China, will lift 1 million people out of poverty, above an annual income threshold of less than 2,300 yuan ($385) in 2014, its governor said during the province's two sessions that concluded recently.  [Special coverage]

Governor Li Jiheng said the provincial government will focus on four major areas, including Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture on the border with northern Myanmar, in a government report delivered to the Yunnan People's Congress annual session.

According to the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Relief and Development, 73 of 592 national economically deprived counties are located in Yunnan, most of which are located in far-flung mountainous areas or along river valleys.

"This year, Yunnan put 10,000 villages and 56 townships on the top of its poverty alleviation agenda. The provincial government will strive to raise the income of the population in these areas by 3 additional percentage points to equal the average in Yunnan," Li said.

In December 2013, the provincial government issued a plan to provide funding of 4.8 billion yuan to significantly improve conditions in Nujiang, a prefecture named after the Nujiang River that flows from the Tibet autonomous region to northern Myanmar. The prefecture's transportation infrastructure is weak and its economic conditions are harsh.

About 240,000 people live below the poverty line in Nujiang, accounting for 53.9 percent of its total population. That percentage is almost four times the national average, and three times that of Yunnan in general.

The plan for Nujiang encompasses measures to relocate and build homes for farmers from the mountains to riverbank areas, erect and repair irrigation facilities and upgrade village roads and rural power grids.

The mountains make it difficult for Nujiang to access clean water, despite the heavy rain, and the projects will ensure a safe and secure water supply for rural towns.

Meanwhile, telecommunication facilities will reach remote villages in 2017. Local officials have a clear goal to nurture and develop local expertise and, to that end, the plan will also sponsor projects in education, healthcare and professional training.

A 200-km trip takes at least seven hours as major repairs are being undertaken on the highway close to the river in Nujiang. It usually takes five days by bus from the provincial capital Kunming to the far-flung township of Dulongjiang, as China Daily reporters experienced in October 2012.

Meanwhile, arable farmland is rarely glimpsed. Villages in the prefecture are sandwiched between mountains. The Lisu people and other ethnic groups also build their homes on mountain slopes, closer to the major energy provider — wood — and cornfields.

Duan Yueqing, director of the Yunnan Provincial Commission for Tourism Development, said Nujiang has a tremendous advantage in undeveloped tourism resources.

Duan, who is also a people's congress deputy in Yunnan, said the green landscape and well-preserved ecological system of the Nujiang River valley will attract millions of visitors, and more convenient transportation links need to be built to bring in larger tourist numbers.

Tong Zhiyun, Party chief of Nujiang, echoed Duan's idea, saying the first priority is an efficient transportation system.

Dulongjiang township, the main location of China's smallest ethnic group — the Derung — is cut off from the outside world for six months of the year due to heavy snow in Gongshan Derung and Nu autonomous county in Nujiang.

A new highway is under construction and will be opened once the last 586-meter section of the tunnel is completed in March, said Ma Zhengshan, county head of Gongshan.

On Jan 3, President Xi Jinping praised efforts to improve conditions for the Derung and enhance their lifestyle.

Ma said the isolation mindset can sometimes pose challenges.

"One example in Gongshan may surprise you: the government built a hospital, but no nurses or doctors wanted to work for us because it is too far and they wanted more pay," Ma said.

Chu Lijuan, a people's congress deputy from Nujiang's Lanping county, said 20 million yuan of a 70-million fund Lanping will receive from the poverty relief plan will be spent on building more schools and improving student life in the next five years.

"We were excited to hear the news about the unprecedented aid, and will try hard to make the best of the support," she said.

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