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Impoverished county neighboring Beijing counts on industrial upgrading

11-11-2010 17:11 BJT

XINGLONG, Hebei, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Wang Wenshan's family lives in a village about an hour and a half's drive from Beijing's city proper. The family has no savings, is in debt, and dwells in a dingy two-room house built with mud and stone in 1979, where the only home appliance is a black and white television.

There are about 800 similarly poor households that depend largely on government allowance in Hebei Province's Xinglong County adjoining Beijing's suburban Miyun County. Xinglong is a county where 85 percent of its land is found in uninhabitable mountains.

Scarce arable land and winding bumpy roads in mountains have long jeopardized the struggle of its 324,000 people to get rich and catch up with Beijingers, who live just across a boundary but earn more than double that of Xinglong's residents.

Despite that, their struggle for prosperity is backed by the state. In a proposal released last month by the Communist Party of China (CPC) for formulating the 12th Five-Year Program on National Economic and Social Development starting in 2011, developing rural areas is to be given a prominent role as one of the 11 overall national strategies.

"The entire Party must put solving the issues of rural areas, agriculture and farmers as a top priority and balance the development between urban and rural areas," said the proposal.

Indeed, many of the proposed policies are likely to help the people in Xinglong to enjoy similar living standards and social welfare benefits as those in Beijing.

In particular, the county will benefit from the proposed policy of encouraging the development of second and third industries in rural areas as one way to have a diversified income source for rural residents.

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