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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 Sina.com blog late last month:

同志们:

一年一度的春节即将到来,首先预祝各位新春快乐。

春节是中华民族的传统节日,有着其独特的含义和魅力。但是随着社会的发展,我们在城市已经很少能够体验到春节的味道了。那么也许您已经厌烦了城市商业的喧嚣和浮躁,也许您尚没有体验过北方传统春节的趣味,也许您还没有接触过冬日里的北方农村,但是现在只要您愿意,您就可以去农村过年。

Comrades,

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.

青年中国行动是由一批极其热心、极其年轻的青年志愿者发起的追求理想服务祖国的活动,其核心理念是:让无理想者拥有理想,让有理想者拥有思想,让有志青年付诸行动,让持续行动改变中国。尽管其现在依然处于筹备阶段,但是其下属的子工作项目大学生反哺农村工程已经开展两年多,并在陕西洛南建立了新农村建设试验区,其中承担了部分城乡和谐互动的职能。

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.

今年春节,试验区农民协会再一次和大学生支农办公室联手,开展部分文艺活动,如果您在春节期间去试验区过年,您不仅可以体验到北方农村风情,还可以了解到试验区农村民情,进一步加深对祖国传统文化和祖国国情的认识。

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.

蒸花馍,写春联,舞狮子,扭秧歌,敬火神,放鞭炮等等,您都可以亲身体验。

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.

促进城乡和谐互动,建设社会主义新村,就在我们的共同行动之中。洛南试验区欢迎您的光临。

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

联系人:
马永红 13002944313(西安)13991414900 (商洛)
(青年中国行动中心代总干事)
邓三平09147566667(洛南试验区农民协会会长)
殷本涛13991564225(大学生反哺农村工程洛南负责人)

Contact:
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.

5 comments

  • 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

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