This is the famous Daliang Shan 大凉山 in Sichuan Province. The villagers who live at Xuanya (cliff) Village belong to the Yi minority 彝族 and are some of the poorest people in China. About 72 families live on this plateau. The children attend school at the foot of the mountain and stay there for 2 weeks at a time. The adults are farmers who have to bring their produce to sell at the market below.
The 2017 video below is the official media’s documentation of the circumstances faced by the villagers, having to climb near vertical wooden ladders and vines to get around. The video also shows challenges faced by the government and how they managed to build a steel ladder and provide financial assistance to the people.
Below is the official CCTV version of how the government has been improving the lives of the people by building a steel ladder connecting Xuanya Village 悬崖村 perched on a plateau to the amenities below. The ladder was completed in November 2016. It is an impressive video showing the multi-pronged approach to alleviate poverty.
The CPC secretary said that Xuanya Village will see tremendous changes( 翻天覆地的变化) soon. Below is Comrade Shi Bingfeng’s video of Daliang Shan and Xuanya Village shot in August 2019 (before Covid). He climbs the ladder and as you can see, the predicted tourist numbers did not materialise. The convenience stores set up to cater to tourists are not exactly doing a brisk business.
He finally reaches the top and this was condition of Xuanya Village after promises of “tremendous changes” in 2016. As Comrade Shi discovers, there is actually more than one village on the mountain. The dismal conditions are still evident, looking at the children’s clothes, leaking roof and the villagers’ diet of corn and potatoes, also consumed by the pigs. The only profitable and cost effective thing they could sell is pork.
The obvious question on everyone’s minds is, why don’t the villagers just move to lower ground? The official CCTV documentary did not address this obvious question. What is the point of building the ladder if you could give them a better home elsewhere?
Comrade Shi found us the answer. That’s because the Chinese government would only give each family 30,000 yuan to relocate. With that kind of aid, it’s impossible for them to get a new home with land to cultivate. Let’s go give their 小卖部 some business.
This couple was confronted by officials who were there to inform them that their house had to be demolished (ostensibly to make way for new mega projects that flaunt wealth, boost GDP and build confidence). The official reason given was that their house was not built according to regulations. The couple, of course, had all the papers to show that the reason provided was not valid. The authorities may then respond by sending engineers to pronounce the structure unsound. Folks who are used to the rule of law in their own country may not know what to do under such circumstances.
This couple took to the streets and created a scene. 别人不讲理你就要比他凶。This is how Chinese people handle what they see as bullying. The old man did something very interesting and it has to do with recent developments in America’s policies against CCP members. He challenged the officials present to admit that they are Communist Party members and none of them dared to say it on camera. Of course, nobody knows how this will turn out. It depends on the how much political clout the developer has.
There are no freehold properties in China. All residential properties must be returned to the government after 70 years. But then, many buildings are not constructed to last 70 years anyway and technically, the government can demolish anyone’s house at short notice with compensation best described as a token. The majority of Chinese people are not affected by 强拆。Otherwise, anarchy would ensue. Nevertheless, nobody sees his home as something permanent. Property speculation and house flipping is a favourite pastime in the cities. Many eventually buy property overseas (like in America) where home ownership is better protected. That’s why the officials dared not admit that they are CCP members.
House prices in China keep rising and many people enamoured with China believe that they will continue to rise and somehow never burst because of the “5,000 years of greatness” not found in any other place. Do these understand how lands laws and the real estate market in China work? The following video explains it all and anyone interested in China should watch it – even those who are not buying property.
The real estate market which is completely under the control of the CCP, is the most powerful weapon at the party’s disposable. By manipulating the market, the government can boost property prices even when the economy is slowing down. It’s a speculator’s market. Those who are stuck with it have effectively enslaved themselves for life. This is the rationale behind 躺平.