Lush mountains and envelope of thick mists adorn the ethnic minority village located in the remote hilly regions of Jinqiu, east China's Zhejiang Province, manifesting a fairyland-like aura.
The mountain village belongs to Jingning She Autonomous County, the only ethnic minority autonomous county in east China that once reeled under abject poverty.
It is hard to imagine that a village in Zhejiang, one of China's wealthiest provinces, grappled with food shortages and was isolated from the outside world about 35 years ago.
The per capita annual income in the village was less than 200 yuan (28 U.S. dollars) in 1985. In 2019, it proliferated to 17,000 yuan, an 85-fold increase.
Over the past three decades, the unremitting efforts of secretaries of the village branch of the Communist Party of China have achieved this marvelous change.
"In 1985, when I was still a student, there was no hard road in the village and it took me about 40 minutes to get to school. On rainy days, I had to walk barefoot because I had no shoes to change," said Lan Wenzhong, 51.
"The village was once dirty and poor in the 1980s. Local residents even had to raise their livestock inside the house to avoid thieves," recalled 72-year-old Lei Zhengyu, who served as the Party secretary of the village from 1985 to 1997.
Lei was the one who led villagers to construct the first hard road so that tea merchants could come to purchase the tea leaves. "This is the road that has led us out of poverty," said Lei.
When Chen Liping took over Lei's post, he began to take advantage of the charming scenery and unique ethnic culture to explore a tourism-oriented development model.
Chen initiated a large-scale renovation of the village by demolishing old toilets, constructing concrete roads, and choreographing a special wedding performance of the She ethnic minority. In addition, villagers were also mobilized to plant more tea bushes.
By the end of Chen's tenure in 2011, owing to his relentless efforts, the collective economic income of the village had more than tripled to exceed 30,000 yuan.
The two subsequent Party secretaries further promoted the tourism industry. As a result, the number of visitors to the village surged from less than 30,000 in 2003 to about 150,000 in 2019, garnering a tourism revenue of over 2 million yuan.
The current Party secretary Lan is fully confident in the future development of Jinqiu Village. He predicts that by 2020, the per capita annual income of the entire village will exceed 20,000 yuan, and the village's collective economic income is expected to reach 1 million yuan in the next three to five years.