A village prospers, thanks to returnees
Jul 18,2022 China Daily

Gu Tengfei at a showroom of local products in Gujiatai village in Fuping county, Hebei province. LIU QI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Gu Tengfei said that he can finally live a life that lives up to his namein Chinese, tengfei means "rising rapidly".

"I have a good life now," said the 32-year-old resident of Gujiatai village in Fuping county in Hebei province.

Gu used to be a migrant worker in Beijing, which is about 250 kilometers northeast of the mountain village.

"I went to the city in 2009 when I was only 19 years old. I worked at restaurants as a cook, as a beverage salesperson and as a taxi driver," he said, recalling his experiences before he returned to his hometown in 2020, adding that although the city was full of opportunities, life there was really bitter. "I returned because I saw that great changes had taken place in my hometown," he said.

Gujiatai was once poverty stricken. Surrounded by mountains with bumpy roads, residents lived in adobe houses. Since 2012, when Fuping county started its poverty elimination campaign alongside other poor regions in the country, the village has gradually changed its fate.

Thanks to a number of government-led measures, villagers have been able to move into new residential communities, with supporting facilities like parks and squares.

Gujiatai was also able to invite industries to create jobs for residents, among them a bag-making factory, and started to develop a tourism sector based on its mountain scenery.

Through these measures, the village was able to lift itself out of poverty in 2017. Attracted by the changes, Gu gave up his migrant life and returned home with a plan to sell agricultural products by livestreaming on social media platforms, a practice popular with young people.

From one of the new squares, against a backdrop of mountains dotted with fruit trees and streets filled with guesthouses, Gu enthusiastically pitches local products such as honey and dates. He also tells stories about his home to encourage tourists to visit. "I want to see more hosts promoting Fuping's produce and beauty to people all across the country," he said.

Viewing himself as a business operator, Gu turned a patch of wasteland into a beer garden last year with friends in the village. With 20 dining tables, the garden has created jobs for a dozen villagers and can make up to 50,000 yuan ($7,452) a day during the holidays, he said.

"The businesses I've started would not exist if not for the great changes my hometown has experienced," Gu said, adding that he hoped life in Gujiatai would improve, so that residents like him would be able to stay and not need to leave in search of work. "Young returnees have really helped the villagers they employ to prosper, greatly raising living standards," said Gu Shujun, village deputy Party chief.

Editor: Song Lifang