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Shuling (L); Dong’er (D); Xiaoyan (X)

(CHINA 32 - Northeast)


F; F; F


40; 26; 31




Longtang, Huanglongsi, Hebei




This is a short interview with three women of a four-woman team who have taken a lease on a bare hillside in order to cultivate it. They got the contract through bidding at a public auction, and as only one contract was available the women decided to cooperate and work together. Although the narrators’ responses are short they give a good sense of the task they have undertaken and their hopes for the land: “If we can succeed in 40 years the success will belong to us all… Our dream is beautiful.” They describe their difficulties and lack of resources, but what comes across most clearly is their desire to succeed in making the land profitable: “We help and understand each other. We should hold on to the end.”

See China 31 for a more detailed interview with Shuling.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  One explains why they took on the lease: “Because we all have children, we can’t leave home to work. Then we thought that if we could sign the contract we would bring about some money.” They have a 40-year contract: “We call the hill ‘the Economic Valley’. It means ‘bring about money’… We have to pay 430 yuan every year. We have paid since last year. The money is equally divided. Everyone has a share.”
Section 2-3  The village production team exempted them from charges for the first year. The women decided to take the lease without consulting their husbands, who turned out to be pleased and supportive. Difficulties digging land: “There were so many rocks. It is a bit easier after it rains in summer. We can’t dig in winter. Since it’s too dry in spring it’s not easy to dig the ground… First we must get rid of the rocks. If we find loose soil we will plant trees there. Now we have developed two mu (1 mu equals 0.067 hectares) and planted 100 trees.”
Section 3  Lack of money is a problem as well as labour. Although it is hard at the moment they all have faith in the long-term benefits: “Fear brings no help. Though we are having a hard time now, things will look up in the future.” Have planted 100 grafted fruit trees so far. Learnt grafting from the men. They “need a pump to draw water”.
Section 3-4  A major problem is buying saplings. Despite the difficulties the women hope they will succeed: “We should have the courage to carry out our plans.” Being exempt from some charges has helped, but they expect to have to pay more in the future. One of the women asks the interviewer: “When the trees bear fruit please come back to see if we are successful.”
Section 4-5  The interviewer vividly describes walking up to the mountain slope with the women to see their land.