China: The west is red

If you're still up in the air over what to do over the Chinese New Year holiday, or if you just happen to have a couple weeks off, you could always go to China's impoverished inland region and participate in the construction of the new socialist countryside.

Southern Rural News editor Tan Yifei's got a plan [zh], Regarding the initiative to go to rural experimental zones for the Spring Festival, posted to his blog late last month:





The annual Spring Festival is upon us, and first I wish everyone a happy new spring.

Spring Festival is a traditional holiday for the Chinese people, and it has its unique significance and charm. But as society develops, us here in the cities far too seldom taste the flavor of spring. Perhaps you're sick of the commercial hoopla and flippancy of the city, or maybe you still haven't experienced the delight of a traditional northern Spring Festival, or seen a northern village in winter. But so long as you're willing, you too could see in the new year from the countryside.


The Youth China Action [YCA] is an activity launched by a group of extremely young, enthusiastic volunteers seeking idealism in serving the motherland. Its core idea is to give non-idealists some ideals, to give idealists some ideology, to let willing youth act, and continue changing China. Despite that the YCA still remains in the preparatory stage, its subsidiary project of feeding university students into the rural project has been going for over two years now, and a new countryside construction experimental zone has been established in Luonan, Shaanxi, which plays part of the role in the urban-rural harmonious interaction.


This Spring Festival, the Experimental Zone Peasant Association has once again partnered up with university ‘Support the Countryside’ offices and launched a bit of a literature and art activity. If you find yourself willing to go to the experimental zone over Spring Festival, not only will you be able to get a feeling for the northern countryside, but you'll also come to understand the feelings of the rural people there further deepen your understanding of the motherland's traditional culture and national sentiment.


Steam Flower Buns, write Spring couplets, do the Lion Dance, sing the local opera, pay respects to the Fire God and let off firecrackers are just some of the things you can personally enjoy.


Advancing urban-rural harmonious interaction and creating new socialist villages starts with our joint action. Luonan Experimental Zone welcomes you.

马永红 13002944313(西安)13991414900 (商洛)

Ma Yonghong 13002944313 (Xi'an) 13991414900 (Luonan)
(Acting Director-General, Youth China Action Center)
Deng Sanping 09147566667 (Chairman, Luonan Experimental Zone Peasant Association)
Yin Bentao 13991564225 (Spokesperson, University Student Rural Project, Luonan)

A modern and voluntary twist on discredited socialist policies for people left behind by their capitalist cousins in the cities? Have China's neo-red youth taken up the slack which local cadres and NGOs don't or can't? Ma Yonghong, the force behind this project, at least is a local. From one of the poorest families in his village, he was accepted into the police academy in the provincial capital, but dropped out after two years, disillusioned with the flippancy, falling in love, net-surfing and video games [zh+photo] he saw there, and returned to his village, to his mother's anger, to put back into his community. Many photos from his work there can be found on his own blog. Such a huge topic, there's so much more to be said, not the least on Ma Yonghong himself. Any questions? Or need for further translations? Please leave a comment.

More information on China's “new socialist countryside” plan here, here, here and here.


  • 我想带上我的小孩一起去。

    I met a few people like Ma Yonghong in my university too. Unfortunately, none of them was able to achieve what s/he initially dreamed. Can Ma Yonghong’s dream survives in this ruthless world, especially in China? I think a follow-up story one year after this one is more interesting.

  • Jane

    During my unversity time,I heared that one student in my school organized a party in his hometowm during Spring festival.All the people attending this party got great joy from it.The local news agency even reported the party.So I think if somebody can organize the unversity students returning hometown from different colleges and then participate the activities of enlarging the cluture of the traditonal festival,it will get good result。

  • You have a kid? That’s awesome!

    I guess you’re referring to some of the experiences Ma has had with his one-man socialist project in his hometown, with local leaders helping to fund it but then later stepping in when things started moving faster than they expected. It’s still going, but on official terms now. Didn’t pay much attention exactly to what those are, unfortunately.

    What were some of the problems contributing to the un-success of initiatives your classmates took? What exactly were they involved in? Participating in programs? Or organizing their own?

    I know what you mean about ruthlessness to this, and I don’t even think that the iffy legality of something like this is the biggest thing to worry about. I thought briefly about signing up, it’s just for a week or two, right? But then I immediately thought of how embarrased I would be to tell almost anybody I know here in Guangzhou that I had taken part in a socialist-themed work camp. Not embarrassed, worried! Worried about what being perceived as left-leaning would do to my reputation here…hehe

  • I met one girl quit the university to write a book. A few other guys started company or organization to help the farmers. I did not have their contacts, but I heard from friends that they did not succeed. I have no idea why they failed, that’s why I feel a follow-up story will be interesting. One thing is for sure. All the schoolmates I have been in touch with have only one dream now — to make more money.

  • QIN

    i’m very love voice of foreign friend said he like china. Advancing urban-rural harmonious interaction is a good action ,i hope i will aslo attend after i graduted from school

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site