Opinion | China’s ‘first coffee village’ highlights potential for rural revival


This transformation has its advantages. Life has become richer, more diverse and exciting. But unlike traditional agricultural society, which can sustain itself with minimal connection to the outside, urban society is not self sufficient. It must constantly produce and trade with others. If markets have setbacks and are not replaced by new markets, people suffer and wealth declines. This is where China is today.

For instance, the Post published a report recently about exporters in Zhejiang province. They believe it will be difficult to hit high 2024 growth targets because demand from their two largest export destinations, the European Union and United States, have declined, and new markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are yet to be developed.
Zhejiang is probably not alone. Buzzwords like “ involution” (nei juan) and “ lying flat” (tang ping) suggest a general frustration.
Against this, I found the story of China’s “ first coffee village”, Xinzhai in Yunnan province, refreshing and promising. It points to a new path, advantageous both economically and culturally.

Like other rural areas, Xinzhai once lost its people to cities. But the flow has reversed in recent years. Residents are returning and new people are coming in. Job opportunities are abundant and workers can make as much money in the village as in a top-tier city.

Xinzhai’s development is being helped by 5G infrastructure, including live streaming. The digital transformation has modernised its farming practices, enhanced social services and improved sales. Last year, it sold coffee and related products worth 120 million yuan (US$16.8 million), including 10 million yuan via live stream.

Tourists are also attracted to Xinzhai for its scenery. While the economic upturn is noteworthy, what Xinzhai is doing also enriches people’s social lives and has the far-reaching implication of cultural revival.

The first coffee village in Xinzhai in the city of Baoshan, Yunnan, China. Photo: Yunnan Daily
China has long prided itself on its tea and wine cultures. But the popularity of coffee has grown over the past 20 years. Having a home-grown coffee bean supplier will certainly help promote coffee, encourage more people to try it and increase drink choices.

More importantly, Xinzhai shows it is possible to restore the countryside as an attractive place to live in and visit.

Beautiful villages resonate with Chinese people, who traditionally regard an enjoyable rural life as being situated in the “land of peach blossoms”, a perfect place depicted by poet Tao Yuanming (365 – 427 AD) who himself gave up his government career and returned to the country. His poetry about rural life has nourished Chinese people for well over a thousand years.

06:14

Chinese farmers give up on making a living from the land despite government focus on food security

Chinese farmers give up on making a living from the land despite government focus on food security

Unfortunately, for a long time, living in villages has meant a hard, backward and inconvenient life. That is why Xinzhai’s story is noteworthy. It is changing this narrative. It shows that, aided by technology, rural life can be attractive and prosperous.

It’s clear that, with extensive infrastructure networks, rural life will never be as closed up or hard as it was. Also, working according to nature’s rhythms will never be as hectic as city life is. The revival and renewal of traditional culture offers great potential for both villagers and visitors.

Today, there is a new trend of more people moving to villages, opening bookshops or working on agricultural products. They are attracted by the slow and relaxed lifestyle or looking for new opportunities. Many are well educated. The government also has policies and learning programmes to encourage this trend.

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China’s ‘digital villages’ rejuvenate rural areas, narrow urban-rural gap

China’s ‘digital villages’ rejuvenate rural areas, narrow urban-rural gap

Will this trend stop China from becoming more industrialised, commercial and urban?

I don’t think so. It seems to me that rebuilding rural life is compatible with urban development. One complements the other.

I imagine a future China with countless distinctive villages, not only offering jobs and agricultural products, but also a connection to people’s cultural roots and some respite for the soul.

April Zhang is the founder of MSL Master and the author of the Mandarin Express textbook series and the Chinese Reading and Writing textbook series



This article was originally published by a amp.scmp.com . Read the Original article here. .