PERSONAL NOTE: There is a strange irony in China today. If you have a chance to go home with a student…usually a student comes from a small village or a little remote town somewhere…you will find that their parents live in HOUSES, REAL HOUSES…though small and have some land around them. And this is something we Americans will never understand or care to understand. When Mao Zedong started a New China in 1949, Communist China, the government, like in old Russia, took all the land from you…and what did they do with it? What the government slowly did was to give the poor people or poor farmers some land for you to live in and raise crops to support you and your families. Those who lived in urban areas were not given any land. Down the years, slowly the so called poor farmers were able to make money or they would go to cities to earn more money, and with more money they would improve their old original dwellings, or build new ones replacing the old…so what I see in China today is something very strange to me…who build and own the big multi-story buildings outside the cities, out in the villages or countrysides???? People who originally were given the land for cultivation…now they could afford to build big big mansions out in the rural areas of China…but you and I, the urban people, the city folks, are not allowed to build anything within the urban areas…there is no room for you to do it! So if you visit China, make sure you travel to the countryside to see these huge mansions…sitting out in the jungles and remote countrysides…worth tons of money but the Chinese government allow them to build them…and there are all over China, in rural areas, ahahahha…so the city folks live in high risers, tall buildings, in cages, with very little room because the apartments now are beyond reach of many people…because you cannot afford to buy or own them…this is, to me, the biggest irony in China today! So after 40 years of opening up and reforms, many are moving from the mud huts to apartments in high risers everywhere in China…so the government can sell the original plot of land to greedy developers turning them into high risers…to be sold back to you at prices you cannot afford! Yes, there are many protests, and they continue to protest, but to no avail…because the Chinese government is not willing to compensate you for the money you are asking for, but they could sell your land to the highest real estate developers for large sum of cash! This is China! steve, usa, november 20, 2018 wechat 1962816801 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
Moving from mud huts to apartments
By Cang Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-19
Wang Desheng said his earliest memory is of two shabby huts made of mud, reeds and straw. It’s where he lived with his parents and three siblings in the Xiangyang people’s commune in Nanjing’s Jiangpu county.
The huts were built by a river. When he was 3 years old, he remembers, the inside of the huts became as muddy as the unpaved roads outside whenever it rained.
“The two huts collapsed after one heavy downpour,” said Wang, now 47. “We had to move to the commune’s oil workshop. My father worked from summer to winter to build another hut for us.”
He remembers every step involved. His father first made bundles of reeds, binding them together with straw, before using the bundles to form four walls and a roof. Before covering the entire structure with mud, he erected wooden pillars inside to support the weight.
“The hut was easy to build but couldn’t ward off the winter wind,” Wang said. “We could feel the wind blowing inside. The walls, even though they were supported by wood, fell down easily on windy days. One day, a falling wall smashed an enamel bowl that my parents had bought for me. As a child, I was heartbroken for days.”
The precarious living quarters were not the only problem the family faced. Wang’s parents had to figure out how to feed six people on a combined income of less than one-tenth of a yuan per day.
“We had no food left around Spring Festival,” Wang said. “People needed special tickets to buy food in those years, but we had none left. My father had to borrow money from many people and rode a bicycle about 150 kilometers to our hometown in Wuwei county in neighboring Anhui province to buy sweet potatoes secretly.”
The family then ate sweet potatoes every day until June, when the wheat was harvested and could be made into noodles and steamed bread.
“We didn’t have the feeling that we were in misery at the time, because almost all the people around us lived the same life,” Wang said.
He said food shortages became a thing of the past for the family in 1980, when the commune started to let each family keep the grain they grew on the pieces of farmland they took care of.
“Life started to get better in the 1980s,” Wang said, remembering the early days of reform and opening-up. “The farmland provided enough food, since my parents worked day and night. The farmers started to sell products at two newly formed markets, and some people became wholesalers, selling products from cities at the markets.
“Sometimes I sold shrimp and fish I caught. I even bought a comic book for the first time in my life with the money I earned. My family gradually saved enough money to buy an apartment and we didn’t need to sweat on the farmland to make a living.”
Jiangpu county changed its name to Pukou district in 2002 and became part of the Jiangbei New Area when that area was established in 2015.
“Almost all the dilapidated huts and buildings have been pulled down and people have moved to new apartments,” Wang said.
“People we know have pensions, electric appliances and children around them. That is how reform and opening-up changed my life.”