​China move factories back to the countryside in fighting poverty

Min Rui China Plus Published: 2018-04-28 14:43:06
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A goal of leaving no one behind is Chinese government's ultimate goal in fighting poverty.

In a new approach to win the fight, Hua County in Henan has brought satellite factories into rural villages to help farmers earn money.

CRI's Min Rui has more.

This is Qin Chengxin, a 38 year old woman and a mother of 2 boys. She also has a sick mother to look after. She has been living in a village of Hua Conty in the central province of Henan since the day she was born.

Life was hard for the family in the poor farming village, with debts for Qin's family consistently mounting up: The kids' tuition, a sick mother who needs continual care, let alone her own back injury, wehich means she's limited in the amount of work she can do on her farm.

All these issues combined put Qin's family into a state of poverty in 2014, barely making ends meet by living on limited farming incomes and her husband's temp jobs, as well as limited government subsidies.

Qin says her family was desperate for a change of fate."I didn't have a job in the past. I don't have any working skills. When the village head told me a garment factory is being built here, and they were hiring, I was thrilled. I was so happy. I went to sign up for a job, as soon as I heard the news."

China move factories back to the countryside in fighting poverty

2016 saw Qin Chengxin's fortunes turn for the better, being hired by the Jintai Garment Factory immediately after the satellite factory was built in her village.

After a week of training, she began working, now able to use a clattering sewing machine on a pipeline operation, manufacturing clothes for foreign brands like American Eagle and Uniqlo.

Jintai Garment is a Jiangsu-based garment factory in the affluent coastal province of Zhejiang. 

In a bid to save on labour costs, the company began running some of its production facilities in Hua County in 2015.

Shao Deming is a manager at Qin's factory. He says the relocation from the coastal regions to rural villages in Henan is a benefit to both the operation and the people in the village.

"Our factory has been here for a few years. We started with a dozen workers, and now we have thousands. Hua County is a poor area with a big population. So the place is a great place to find labor. This is why we came here. Before we hired them, many of the local women only did part-time farm work, while taking care of their kids. Now that they've started to work, I'm sure their financial status looks a lot better."

Henan is a major agricultural province, considered a pillar in China's wheat production. But with the modernization of agriculture, the province has also become one of China's leading exporters of labor.

Over the past decade, many of the men from Henan's smaller villages have migrated to the big cities to earn a better salary, leaving their wives to tend to the crops and the children. Many of them also take their wives along with them, leaving the children to be brought up by their grandparents back in their home villages.

But now with a bigger plan mapped out to revitalize the countryside, the local government wants them to return.

Factory Manager Shao Deming notes 17 satellite factories have been set up in Hua County since 2015, when his company struck a deal with the local government, using poverty alleviation funds to build factories and storage units.

Now employing around 26-hundred workers, Shao says he takes pride in knowing he's helped to change the lives of many local families.

"Since we opened for business here, 547 families have successfully left poverty behind. The jobs here have brought a reversal of fortunes for those families. On average, the workers get around 3,000 yuan for a monthly salary. So their annual income is about some 30,000 to 40,000 yuan. If one works here for a year, the salaries are easily enough to lift him or her out of poverty."

The factories in Henan reflect the goals of the government and the Communist Party of China to revitalize rural China.

Xu Zhichao is one of the managers of the poverty alleviation project in Hua County. He says accepting the deal to help finance the transfer of Shao Deming's factory lines to Hua County made sense.

"This provides poor farmers with job opportunities without having to leave the village. They can still tend to the old and the young in their families, while being able to provide a stable income. This establishes roots for a family and helps create stability and eliminate poverty."

Xu Zhichao notes Jintai Garment is just one of 26 different companies running hundreds of satellite factories and workshops across Hua County, which are currently employing around 30-thousand local workers.

Around 700 million Chinese people have been pulled out of poverty through 40 years of reform and opening-up in the country. 

A goal has been set to pull 10 million more above China's poverty line in the coming year.

With stable jobs now, many more in Hua County are thinking about a broader goal of living a "well-off life."

"Now I can provide better clothes and food to my kids, which makes us all a lot happier. Last year, I was even able to buy an electric bike, which cost me 13-hundred yuan. I ride it to work, and also use it to take my kids to school." Qin said.

Qin Chengxin also says her main goal is to send her boys to good schools, and hopefully colleges, to give them a shot at a better life.

For CRI, I'm Min Rui reporting from Henan.

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