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To overcome a daunting challenge in relocation,November 20, 2017 Adjust font size:

For people living in places which cannot sustain their life, alleviating poverty through relocation is a measure addressing the root cause of the problem. The subsidies given to the poor for relocation in many provinces can reach more than U.S. $4,000 per person, amounting to a new apartment for each poor household for free, but there are still some poor who look such “gift horse” in the mouth, and in some cases it turns out to be a daunting challenge to persuade people to move.

24 year-old Meng Zhijian is a young man of Yao ethnic minority living in Qibainong Town of Guangxi, which is one of the poorest places in China. The whole town lies in rocky land subject to desertification, with an extreme shortage of arable land and water. Officials from the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations regard it as the least livable place after actual desert. About 20,000 people live in this place and nearly half of them are living under the poverty line.

Meng Zhijian’s home village, Nonggentun, still has no proper transport links. It takes people more than an hour to climb along a treacherous path over two mountains in order to reach this remote outpost. Dwellings there comprise dilapidated wooden shacks, some of which are extremely shabby, so much so that a bed, a table and a few stools are the only furniture. The nearest primary school is several kilometers away.

Meng Zhijian is a short quiet young man with a wood-chopping sickle hanging by his waist. He dropped out of school after primary, and went to the coastal areas in east China as a migrant worker in his teens.

“If you move out of the village, your children can go to school and your father can have easier access to medical care. Besides, the government is offering a new apartment worth tens of thousands of dollars for free. Why did you turn it down?” asks a reporter.

“The cost of living is very high outside,” answers Meng. “And at least in the village I can grow a little corn on the hillside to sustain us. Besides, the kids belong to the mountains, and I can have more children here as long as they can survive.” But he falls into silence when it is pointed out that like many other single men in the village, he might never be able to find a wife if he refuses to move. 


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