We have two very different stories from the China news this week. Our first continues the series about alleviating poverty in the Mainland. Here we look at the largest guitar factory in the world in Guizhou.
Zheng’an, Guizhou: A musical way out of poverty
Zheng’an County, Guizhou Province, began to introduce the guitar industry in 2013. In 2020, the county will have an annual output of more than 6 million guitars with an output value of nearly 6 billion yuan. It is currently the world’s largest guitar production base. The Guitar Industrial Park has so far allowed 14,731 people to find jobs at home, and helped 6,690 people to escape poverty.
The smell of wood fills the entire factory.
After selecting the raw materials for the components, the workers combined the side panels, front panels, back panels, and other parts of the guitar to create the prototype of the guitar. Here they are polishing the guitars.
Polished and painted, the wood-coloured body is shiny. Hundreds of instruments are hung in a large room, irradiated by warm lights, dried for three hours, and then sent to the next workshop to assemble parts.
Finally, the guitars are tuned in a separate room by the hands of the tuner. If the quality inspection is correct, it will be stored in the warehouse, waiting to be shipped to all parts of the world.
Zheng’an County was once one of 16 deeply impoverished counties in Guizhou Province. In 2014, 31,298 poverty-stricken households were recorded in the county; the incidence of poverty reached 21.33%.
The County is in the north of Guizhou, surrounded by hills. Liu Ping, deputy director of the County Investment Promotion Bureau, comments that the area is large, but the available arable land area is small; and there are many terraces. it is difficult to introduce large-scale agricultural machinery, farmers still use the most traditional methods of farming, and the income is thus meagre. Outside of farming, there are few local employment opportunities. Liu Ping, said that before 2013, there were only a few tea processing factories in the county, and the industry was dying.
In 2012, a Zheng’an County Government delegation visited more than 20 guitar companies in Guangdong.
Most bosses were willing to talk to us about the situation in their hometown, but they were basically unwilling to invest. They are worried about being in Zheng’an. If workers cannot be recruited, transportation costs will also increase.
The guitar industry in Zheng’an County now has a special employment attraction for locals. In the past, there were few jobs in the county: locals had only two choices – working outside the county and staying away from the family; or staying behind with the family which makes it difficult to survive. Nowadays, there are decent jobs on the doorstep, a low cost of living, and good treatment. As a result, people from other villages who work abroad have returned to the factory.
Many guitar companies have welfare policies for poor households. One factory provides a subsidy of 200 yuan per month to employees of poor households; if the children of the employees go to the county to study, the factory provides free board and lodging; the factory pays four years of tuition if they enter a university.
Good food, clothing, housing, and transportation
At 5:30 pm Wei Huiqin and his wife return home from work and buy some cooked food at the local supermarket. They live in a resettlement site in the new poverty alleviation area, which is only one kilometre from the factory.
It seems like a small town here. The main body of the house is white walls and black tiles, no different from common commercial buildings. Shops are set up along the street under the building, with a complete range of clothing stores, barber shops, fresh fruit shops, etc.; hospitals, schools. Senior activity centres and other living institutions can also be easily found.
Liu Ping explained that setting up resettlement sites near the new industrial park is a two-way street. As the demand for labour rises, so establishing a resettlement site outside the park can solve the employment problem.
Before moving to the resettlement site in 2017, Wei Huiqin lived in an old house in the village. There was no gas in the house, and the old stove was used for cooking to make a fire; there was no drainage system, and the toilet was in the stable. The house was made of wood and the roof tiles were often swept away by strong winds.
Wei Huiqin said that there were even more dilapidated houses in the village at that time. Sometimes four walls were woven from bamboo and covered with cow dung, yellow mud, straw, etc., which were used as windshield after drying.
Now his new house at the resettlement site is 110 square meters with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The government did a simple decoration, and he did some himself. He is content.
In our second story, the Editor of HK01 points out how far-sighted former leader Deng Xiaoping was. We should cherish Deng Xiaoping’s concept of one country, two systems, the Editor says, rather than fight against it.
Friday February 19 was the twenty-fourth anniversary of the death of former national leader Deng Xiaoping. For Hong Kong, Deng Xiaoping’s most important move was undoubtedly to put forward the concept of “one country, two systems”, which resolved the apparent contradiction between Hong Kong’s capitalist and China’s socialist system. Hong Kong could thus return to China while retaining its original characteristics. The motherland, at the same time, also promised that this arrangement would remain “unchanged for 50 years” during China’s reform and opening up process. This national policy has not fundamentally changed.
In Deng Xiaoping’s vision of “One Country, Two Systems”, one of its main components was “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”. But these Hong Kong people should be “patriots.” As early as October 1982, Deng Xiaoping pointed out that “Beijing does not send people to manage Hong Kong. Hong Kong finds people to manage Hong Kong. Hong Kong must be managed by Hong Kong people with patriots at its heart.” In April and June 1983, he also stated that “in the future, the government of the Special Administrative Region will be composed of Hong Kong patriots. The standard for patriots is only one – to be in favour of China’s recovery of Hong Kong and support for national unity.”
What is a patriot? “Those who support and advocate the reunification of the motherland are patriots.”
In June 1984, Deng Xiaoping met with visitors from Hong Kong from all walks of life, during which time he reiterated:
We believe that Hong Kong people can govern Hong Kong well and cannot continue to be ruled by foreigners. Hong Kong people need a boundary and standard for governing Hong Kong, that is, they must be patriots. The main body of Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong. The standard of patriots is to respect their own nation and sincerely support the motherland’s restoration of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, without jeopardizing Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. We do not require them to all agree with China’s socialist system but ask them to love the motherland and Hong Kong.
Thus we can see that “patriots ruling Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” are not in conflict with each other as some people suggest today. Nor has Beijing violated its promises because it supports unity, respect for the nation. Supporting sovereignty and maintaining local prosperity and stability are obviously all patriotic requirements that apply everywhere. Moreover, Deng Xiaoping clearly pointed out that “patriotism” does not include identification with China’s socialist system. The Mainland’s claims are consistent, and the relevant concepts still exist in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.
If someone still thinks that these remarks are just trying to deceive Hong Kong people, then we might also look at Deng Xiaoping’s other comments. At the National United Front Work Conference in September 1979, Deng Xiaoping expressed his opinion that “the scope of patriots is very wide, including Chiang Kai Shek.
If Taiwan returns to the motherland, he will do patriotic things.
Since this Taiwanese leader, who was still refusing to negotiate peace with the Communist Party and declared that he wanted to “recover the mainland”, he could be accepted as a “patriotic” person. I believe it is enough to show that the “patriotic” requirement of Hong Kong people is not difficult.
Fifty years of no change has already half passed by. The practice of “One Country, Two Systems” has experienced many challenges. We should cherish the “One Country, Two Systems” proposed by Deng Xiaoping. Deng Xiaoping’s “patriotic” requirements make it easy for anyone to comply with, especially “not jeopardizing the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.” In the past, some Hong Kong politicians held high the banner of “patriotism” and supported the “one country, two systems”, but how many people really contributed to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong?
When Hong Kong’s society is alienated from morality, people’s lives are miserable, and prosperity and stability are reduced to a few powerful people, this is not the true spirit of “one country, two systems,”
Looking back on Deng Xiaoping’s ideas and requirements today, this group should feel ashamed.