Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Industry & Agriculture

From NPR: Arrival of Industry Brings Suffering to Countryside

Chinese estimates say up to 40 million farmers have been removed from their land. Song Lingui is one of those farmers.

Four years ago, the local government took his land and sold it to the chemical plant. He was given some compensation, but he says it was not enough.

"Our land was so good. We could grow crops on it throughout the year," Song says. "In the past, we could live off our land, but now that's not possible. "

One of the first things that struck me while riding from Kunming, Yunnan, south to Honghe Prefecture, was the seemingly endless industrial sprawl crawling out from Kunming, and the overwhelming grayness of the land that wasn't industrialized or crowded with housing. As I would discover, the sprawl around Kunming (which I would imagine is small compared to that of cities in more populated and industrialized provinces) is a far cry from the beauty of the Chinese countryside outside of industrialization.

Of course, it would be ridiculous to over-romanticize China's agriculture and the lives of the people who till the land. Yet it remains that for many, many Chinese, particularly those still making a living from farming, the land is something that dwells very deeply inside of them, something that only gives them food and income, but is beautiful and charged with sacred significance. Farming land is a very important anchor of tradition in a land where old ways and traditions are still important.

When I talked with Chinese students about their home villages (I was in a largely rural region where most students hailed from rural villages) I was struck with how much of an identification they still had- even as young, modern university students- with the land of their homes, with the rivers and hills and farms. Nearly all desired to return to their hometowns if possible. While the Chinese tend to be reserved- for good reason- with criticisms of current affairs in China, I heard from many students laments over the state of the environment in their homes. One student told me sorrowfully how when he was young the river beside his village was living and full of fish; now, in the wake of factories along its banks nothing can survive in it. It is dead. Things like this matter deeply to many Chinese, and I believe that many are thinking deeply about them and do not wish to see their land disappear under an unstoppable tide of industrialization.

How to prevent this and maintain economic progress: I don't know all- many even- answers, but I believe that many Chinese are considering such questions deeply. Whether anything can be done remains to be seen, though many more are acting and speaking up. Perhaps change will come- not in revolutions or overnight- that will extend not only to farmers but to all of China, that will lead it into a future free of Communism, free of ruthless state explotation in favour of no-holds-barred capitalism: a free and beautiful China. I do not- I refuse to believe- that such a dream is impossible.


Post a Comment

<< Home