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.