After centuries of strife, four Guangdong villages bury the hatchet

China Daily, November 09, 2023
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Four villages in Jieyang, Guangdong province, have mended their long-standing feuds and established friendship thanks to the efforts of grassroots officials.

The villages of Chaqiao, Meixi, Meidong, and Xialiu put an end to centuries of marriage restrictions and ushered in a brighter future last month.

During a ceremony to mark the reconciliation, village officials, respected elders, and local dignitaries from the villages exchanged "friendly neighborhood" plaques at their respective ancestral halls.

"Aspiration of former generations finally realized," said Huang Chaoming, Party secretary of Meixi village.

The animosity between the four villages can be traced back to the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). The conflicts could arise from the contention of farmland and water resources. As a result, marriage between the villages was forbidden and communication and business cooperation were limited, posing challenges for local development.

To solve the problem, grassroots officials initiated a reconciliation process in June. The greatest challenge was to persuade the older generations.

Yang Yantian, Party secretary of Chaqiao village, said that the elderly, holding more conservative views, expressed resistance when the issue of restoring marriage was raised.

Yang said that extensive efforts were made through numerous meetings and over two months of communication to eventually win the hearts and minds of the older people.

The reconciliation of the villages has seen more young people openly declare their relationship and marriages, which in turn were better received and blessed.

Moreover, the change has also brought benefits to local economy and environment. Villages that were engaged in different industries now have more business opportunities in cooperation with other villages. A wastewater channel previously blocked between Meidong and Chaqiao villages due to their feuds now runs smoothly, greatly improving the living environment.

In recent years, many villages with feuds in the region have established friendly relations as a result of grassroots efforts to promote rural civilization. Examples include the Beishan and Guolong villages in Puning, and the Chidu and Shanmei villages in Jieyang.

The reconciliation of those villages serves as a testament to effective governance at the grassroots level, said Liu Wei, vice-president of Guangdong Public Management and Policy Research Association.