Snap! Policy helps record beauty of rural China
the rural revitalization strategy in east China’s Jiangxi Province has created jobs and changing the lives of local villagers beyond their dreams.
Cao Jiaxiang, 44, is a photographer in Huangling Village, Wuyuan County in the province. Although he dreamed of becoming a photographer ever since he was a child, Cao’s dream only came true seven years ago.
“Our village used to be very poor, so I had no choice but to leave for work after I graduated from high school,” he said. The mountain village was mired in poverty due to isolation and frequent natural disasters.
However, the village has been transformed in recent years thanks to the country’s rural revitalization strategy to boost the development of agriculture, promote rural employment and increase farmers’ incomes.
Boasting rich tourism attractions including centuries-old architecture, the village has been developing the industry with government support and is expected to see about 1.4 million tourists in 2019.
In 2012, Cao quit his job in a garment factory in Zhejiang Province and went back to the village working as a photographer for the local tourism administration. He is collecting old photos from villagers and shooting new ones from identical angles to show the huge changes that have taken place in the village.
“I never thought I could make my dream come true in the village and record the changes here with my camera,” he said.
Cao Xixiang, 58, is now a popular attraction in her own right, performing local agricultural customs for visitors.
Wearing a kerchief and an apron, she dries farm produce including chili and pumpkin in bamboo baskets in the bright sunshine.
The custom has become a must-see performance for tourists visiting the village. “I can make a living by performing since the village became a tourist attraction,” she said.
Nearly 200 villagers, including Cao Xixiang, have been employed to perform local customs for tourists. The village’s annual per capita income has increased to 45,000 yuan US$6,400 from 3,500 yuan.
“I have come to Wuyuan County at least twice a year for the past 15 years,” said Toku Chou from the Photographic Society of Taipei. “The ancient elements of the villages in the county have remained unchanged for centuries, which is what we are looking for.”