A hillside town in Central China has boosted living standards through the introduction of real estate tourism. Hou Liqiang and Zhou Lihua report from Moudao, Hubei province
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of reports China Daily will publish in the coming weeks focusing on efforts to eradicate poverty and raise living standards in the country's rural areas, especially among members of the nation's 55 ethnic groups.
Moudao was once a deserted place where people could hardly harvest enough to eat from the limited infertile farmland that would only support potatoes and corn.
In those days, there were few people to be seen on the 3.5-meter-wide road in the mountain-encompassed town, especially adults because most of them had moved to other towns to live as migrant workers, according to Qin Taixiang."The average per capita cultivated land in my village, Yaocai, is less than 1 mu (0.07 hectare).
People thought their lives were good if they have enough potatoes to eat. Almost 80 percent of the adults left town temporarily, and the terrible conditions prompted more than 10 households to relocate to other areas permanently," said the 56-year-old resident of the town in the Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hubei province.
The large number of villagers who left resulted in Moudao being nicknamed "the biggest source of migrant workers in Hubei", and Wang Houjun, the mayor, said half of the town's 70,000 residents were once employed elsewhere.
Profound changes occurred, however, after the local government brought in real estate tourism developers in 2011 as part of a poverty relief campaign that made full use of Moudao's natural advantages: a high rate of green coverage and cool temperatures during summer.