Guizhou through a photographer's eye

By Bruce Connolly | | 2017-12-01 07:46

Guizhou through a photographer's eye

Water and the land Guizhou. [Photo by Bruce Connolly/]

In recent years rural China has witnessed a great loss of population as many physically able people have migrated towards urban centers in search of wealth seemingly unobtainable by remaining in the countryside. Rural areas were viewed too often more in the context of poverty and deprivation, which is quite the opposite to Western concepts of idyllic rural life. However, losing the rural population is not good for the long-term - a country needs people to produce food. Solutions have to be found where people feel content continuing to live and work within a rural environment.

Southwest China presents a physically beautiful, stunning landscape. A year-round mild climate facilitates cultivation where topographically possible. Much of the land is limestone -- pinnacle peaks rise between relatively limited areas of flat, cultivable land. Terracing occurs where slopes are not totally vertical although water accessibility is a problem with much flowing underground.

Guizhou proved truly fascinating, indeed enchanting, when I was there recently, for it appeared that village and small-town life remains much more significant than in eastern provinces. Guizhou struck me as a landscape where man and the elements have come together, where traditions of land management go back many centuries to produce successful harvests. Despite the idyllic appearance it was obvious however that deep down a hard life still prevailed in parts. Ninety-five percent of the province is mountainous, creating many problems in developing traditional farming - a significant factor in rural poverty. Some children continued to walk lengthy distances along country roads to and from school while access to modern health facilities could entail lengthy journeys. Limited public transport indeed creates isolation for communities. However Guizhou is pivotal to the central government's determination to greatly reduce rural deprivation, to diminish urban-rural disparities while aiming towards a more equal society.

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