photo of Chinese woman northeast and southwest China
China glossary


(CHINA 30 - Northeast)






Village head of Huanglongsi


Huanglongsi, Hebei


May 1997



Section 1
Does the name of the village have any significance?
The three Chinese characters respectively stand for emperor, dragon and temple.

Is there a temple in the village?
Yes, three small ones, no big one.

When were they built?
About a hundred years ago.

Are they still there?
Yes, there is one on the Emperor Hill, beneath which there is a pond named Dragon Pool. So the temple got its name Emperor Dragon. And there are another three small ones. We don’t know what these three temples look like, nor do we have any written records. It is just a legend passed down for generations. About three years ago there was a big fire caused by a cigarette butt thrown away by a mindless villager. Many pine trees were burnt in that fire, some survived. Since then we have been planting trees. I have a strong premonition that there must be some undiscovered treasure in this place. The story about the name of the place indicates that it is an extraordinary place. Our village has a circumference of 18 square kilometres and most areas are low in the valley. So we are famous for our hidden living places. The place where I live and where the Party secretary live are both on the mountain slopes (ie easily visible). But on the east, the houses are hidden in the valley and cannot be seen from outside.

Do all the three parts belong to the Huanglongsi Village?
Yes, we are one village.

Are there any other villages?
To the north is Yixian County, and Shunping to the west.

Is life deep in the mountain area harder than life here?
Not worse than ours. I think changes are greater here because of better transportation.

Did you have to walk wherever you went before there were any vehicles available?
That’s true. We were used to walking. In 1976 before I graduated from high school, I used to walk 20 kilometres on foot to my school everyday. But I didn’t feel tired at all. It was nothing.
Section 2
How do the students go to school nowadays?
By bicycle. They will set off right after breakfast. The county town is 45 kilometres away from here, so nobody goes there on foot as people did in the past.

You didn’t have any carriages or ox carts in the past?
No, at that time if you had a donkey you would be envied. I rode a donkey once.

When did you get electricity?

Did you use oil lamps before that?

When were the roads built?
In 1977 and 1978.

Who organised the work, the township or the county government?
It was the Transportation Bureau of the county who provided the money, and the workers were from our village. I took part in the construction of the roads. At that time I had just graduated from high school.

Which part of the road did you work on? The road linking the village and the township, or the one from the township to the county?
Just at the turning of the road. At the end of the asphalt road extends out a cobbled road.

When will you have an asphalt road right to the village?
The Transportation Bureau of the county has already estimated the cost, but the bureau doesn’t have sufficient money, besides the cobbled road is alright. Once or twice every year we do maintenance work on the road; whenever the road is ruined by heavy rain, it will get repaired in time.

How do you deal with the land here?
The land is allocated by production teams. We used to have dozens of production teams but now they are re-named villagers’ teams.

What’s the function of those production teams?
We used to have a production brigade to organise production. Now each household is responsible for its [own] production. The production team is neither a productive unit nor an administrative unit. Its main function is the re-division of land. Every five years, we have our land re-divided because marriages and deaths cause the unbalanced situation of land division. For example if a girl leaves the village by marriage or an old man dies, then the family will be having more land than others, while some children don’t have their own land yet.
Section 3
Does every child have a share of land?

Are boys and girls treated equally?

If a girl leaves the village after marriage how about her share of land?
It will be re-divided at the end of that five-year term.

How about the women who move into the village by marriage?
They will get theirs in the re-division.

If there is a divorce, how is the land and the house dealt with?
It depends on the court sentence. The village is responsible for carrying out the sentence. Of course he or she cannot take the land away if he or she leaves the village. But there is almost no divorce in the countryside. Perhaps people are still feudal-minded (old-fashioned). They would rather live unhappily together than divorce and lose face before others. So there are very few divorces in the village.
[We went to the mountain slope which she has contracted from the production team. Now the trees on the hills were about one metre high. Her husband was working on the slope. On our way up to the hill she told us the story.]

We met our first difficulty when the truck loaded with cement arrived at the foot of the mountain. The truck could not go any further, for there was no road. If we hired people to carry the cement up, we had to pay 5 yuan for each bag. So we carried them ourselves. At first we could carry four or five bags a day, but we were all exhausted two days later. Those were the days full of sorrows and joys.
When my son was only three years old, I had to walk 5 kilometres to do farm work on a piece of land of only 2 fen big with millet. At lunch time I couldn’t go back home, so we just had the food I brought with me. My face got burnt by the strong sunshine at noon and became as red as a piece of red cloth. And often I was too tired to move at the end of the day. When I came back home it was very late in the afternoon. I always doubted whether this small patch of land with so low yield was worth my hard labour. Every year I had to go there at least six times, for seeding, hoeing, and harvesting. I had a poor harvest, for millet is not a high-yield crop. At that time I thought to myself, “Shall I be poor all my life? No, I have been educated and I must change my life by using my knowledge.” Senior middle school graduates were rare and precious in those years in my village.

How about now?
There are at least three or four [graduates]. I think that life can’t be aimless and I’m determined to improve the life in my hometown. I want to take the lead. I used to be the head of the branch of Women’s Federation in my village and often attended meetings outside to exchange experience with people from other regions.

Do you still remember which year it was?
The year when I was 23. I had been head of the Women’s Federation since 1982. [She began to tell stories about farming.] When the hybrid maize in irrigated land was first introduced, few people believed it would work. Most villagers thought that there was no difference between hybrid maize and the common kind, which had a growth period as long as one whole year. They refused to try. I was the first to risk the new one. I bought the seeds and planted 3,500 seedlings in one mu (1 mu equals 0.067 hectares).
My father was very much worried. “Are you crazy? I have never seen such a densely planted field in my life.” Some people laughed at me, “This is a person who even doesn’t know how to thin out the plants. What a fool.” But I believed it, for I read it from a book. I love reading books. My father tried to persuade me several times to thin the crop. That is just what he likes, always repeat what others say. I would answer him, “Wait till autumn and you will see.” That year we had a very good harvest. My grandfather (my mother’s father) was still alive then. When he saw carts loaded with corn cobs coming home one after another, he got very excited and surprised. “My goodness, how could you get so much?” The next year, many people in our village planted hybrid maize. Unfortunately, we were cheated with false seeds. Again people lost heart.
Section 4
Did you have hybrid maize again the next year?
Yes, I was also taken in. But as the saying goes, failure is the mother of success. The failure was caused by the false seeds and there was nothing wrong with the technology itself as the first harvest showed. Gradually, people began to accept this new method.

Then how did you come to think of contracting land for the cultivation of the mountain?
In 1993, I had some chances to attend meetings outside of our place, even as far as Ling Xi. At Longju village I met a Party secretary who cultivated a hill. The condition of their hillside is just like ours with a very thin layer of soil.

Is the secretary a man or a woman?
A man. He hired a lot of people to help with blasting away rocks and then had trees planted. This year his net income from trees is 20,000 yuan. That year we were called on to follow his example to cultivate the mountains and get our bread (livelihood) from them. The best way is to plant trees. But at first villagers doubted if it would work. “Will trees really grow on the stony hills?” No matter what they said I was determined and full of confidence, for I had seen others’ success with my own eyes. I talked with my husband Liu Guoqing, “For the sake of future generations, we’d better contract a hill.” He said neither yes nor no: “It is up to you. Anyway, I must go out to earn some money.” I bid with a man who was the head of another production team. The price went from 60 yuan up to 280. Finally I won. At that time I was penniless. However you had to hand in the cash so as to sign the contract. So I borrowed money from relatives and neighbours. Finally I got the contract signed.

For how many years is the contract valid?
Forty years. Each year I should hand in 280 yuan to the village. Finally I won. My husband was away from home then. How could I deal with the whole mountain all by myself? Some villagers laughed at me, “Without her husband, a woman wants to transform the mountain - she must be out of her mind!” I tried to persuade my husband to help me. “You’d better come back to give me a hand in cultivating the mountain,” I said to him, “What I am doing is beneficial in the long term. You see those workers in the city have their pension, where do you get yours when you are old? From the hills of course. They will be an endless source of wealth. It won’t take long before the trees grow up and we will benefit a lot.”
I talked with him many times, telling him what I saw and suggested that he go to see those successful examples with his own eyes. At last he was persuaded not to leave home but to plant trees with me. He kept his promise and has been working really hard. Seeing us working on the hills everyday, our neighbours said, “The couple must be out of their minds, how can trees grow on such rocky hills?” They still thought I was doing something wrong. Last year all the 100 plum trees we planted blossomed. It looked like white clouds on the hills. Not until then did the villagers begin to realise that we are doing promising work. Now they look at us with envious eyes.
Last year we had chemical fertilisers but not enough water because of the drought. To solve the problem of water shortage was of utmost urgency. I went to my husband’s brother. He is a state employer working in Dingxian County with salary. I told him about my contract and the hills and asked him to lend me 30,000 yuan. Luckily his niece and her husband came. They are rich and helped. As the saying goes when everyone adds fuel the flame is high. I got the money and came back. With the money I bought the saplings and paid the labourers we hired to build a pool on the hill for retaining water.
Not long ago my daughter and son came back from their boarding school and they needed money. So I went to my uncle who is a retired cadre (government official) and he lent me 1000 yuan. I have handed in an application to the Mountain Development Office for loans. Whether I can get it depends on the profits I can get from my hills. The bank won’t lend you a penny unless you have certain financial capacity. It is the same when we deal with people. You won’t lend a large sum of money to a person who even cannot get himself enough food, for you fear you will never get your money back. I often think that when I get rich I will give a hand to the poor and I will be happier if everyone in my village lives a better life. So I have been trying my best to look for financial support. We already have a little success in raising domestic animals and poultry. Our aim is to double the profit in three years time.
Our village belongs to Mancheng county, which has been ranked as a well-off county because two-thirds of its villages have reached the well-off living standards. But mine is still a poor backward village. We have no choice but to catch up with the others. However, we have so many things to attend to that I do not know which should be done first, which second. Now you are here, could you give me some advice?
Section 5
You must make full use of your hills for you have no other resources. And the cultivation of the mountains will bring you continuous development and be good for the ecology.
You are right. We have to depend on the mountains. Gold was discovered 20 kilometres from here. Many villagers went to dig gold. I always think that maybe there is some treasure under the Emperor Hill [laughing]. I always think our Huanglongsi village holds treasure.
Section 6
You have set a successful example for others. Are there other villagers following you?
As the head of the village it is my duty. I was born and brought up on the soil of Huanglongsi. If I had been born in a rich family, I would not have done what I am doing now. I often feel the pressure of time. How I wish I could make our life rich overnight. [Laughing] I am full of confidence, I think.

Is there anyone else in your village who has made their fortune on the mountains?
The person who has the most and the largest trees in our village lives down in the valley. He contracted (took a lease on) woods of economic trees, which were planted by the production brigade years ago. This year his net profit is estimated as 10,000 yuan per person - there are four people in his family.

Does he need to hand in money to the production brigade?
He has a contract and pays a certain sum of money to the team just like I do. In this way the production brigade can have some income.

How many households are taking on projects that can bring profits to get rid of poverty?
When the “old ladies” (refers to female members of the Association for the Promotion of Backward Areas with Long Revolutionary History - an organisation of retired revolutionaries which aims to help develop the economy and production in those areas) first came to our village, they were not so well welcomed. But they didn’t give up. They have been here four times and Professor Jiang from Beijing Agriculture College has been here seven times. They always have a very tight schedule, holding meetings for production team leaders, talking with villagers, even in the evening. And they organised women to discuss problems of their concern and offered suggestions. We used to have difficulty holding meetings, for we could not afford to pay for villagers to come for a meeting, not even as little as one yuan for each person. However, it was a different case this time. Once the time and place of the meeting was announced, everyone was eager to attend. At a lecture given by Professor Jiang villagers asked how to get rich and how to educate their children. These questions reflected their common interests. We were all fascinated by her speech on how to educate the children to make them new farmers with knowledge and skills.
The next day we had another meeting of women. To be frank I have never seen women in our village so excited and active. More people are eager to contract a hill, for they saw the profit I got from planting trees. Also villagers are interested in raising domestic animals: goats, pigs, cattle, chickens and rabbits etc - especially a certain kind of goat. One household is now raising 17 goats. Domestic animals can bring you profits quickly, within one year. For the funds to start this, we will raise some money by ourselves and also try to get help from the government. If our plan can be carried out, it will help us to get rid of poverty quickly. Then we can put more of our profit into expanding production.
Section 7
Have you thought about processing the fruit you harvest? And how about the transportation and marketing?
We have a plan to establish a fruit-processing factory. We have persimmon trees in the valley and apricot trees on the hills. Now we do not have the money for a processing factory, and we need to plant more fruit trees first. The apricot trees I planted on the hills are a special kind for the use of the kernels.

Is the pulp of the apricot not eatable?
No. It tastes bitter. We just need the kernels. You know we are 45 kilometres from the town and there will be a lot of trouble with the fresh fruits, which easily get rotten. With this special kind [of apricot] used for the kernel, we do not need to worry about the long transportation to Tianjin, Baoding, even Shanghai. We also planned to build a wholesale fruit market in the township. We can transport our fruits there by motor tricycle. It is still a plan. Lack of funds is still the problem.

You mentioned that many men in your village go to the cities to do odd jobs and earn some money. How do they spend that money?
Most of the money goes to the education of children and also to buy some rice or wheat flour. In fact, they earn little. Those who have skills can earn 30 to 40 yuan a day. Most of the men from the mountain area have no skills and can only do manual labour. For them the wages are very low. Also they have to come back to help at sowing and harvesting times, which means they earn less. The worst is that many couldn’t get a penny for their three or four months of hard labour; about 20% of them were fooled by those bosses in towns.

That’s unfair.
Those bosses were very foxy. They just made you work first. Whenever you ask for your money, they would always ask you to wait for few more days for they were short of cash. Take my husband for example. In 1991, he worked at a construction site as a cook for three months. Altogether they should pay him more than 1,000 yuan as his wage. But he got nothing. On the contrary, he spent about 60 yuan on train tickets to the city trying to get back his money.

Would you please tell us something about your life and your family?
I was born in September, 1957, the year of the rooster. Now I am 40. I started schooling at the age of eight and I went to primary and junior middle school in my village. I went to Lingxi for senior middle school. Conditions were hard at that time. I was a boarder and came home once a week. I had always been a top student.

Were you in charge of anything when you were a student?
Not anything important. I was responsible for the blackboard paper and often helped teachers cut stencils. I was a favourite to most teachers. I remembered that once I got up late because of a cold and missed the morning exercises. When the teacher learnt about it, she asked me to have a good rest instead of criticising me. All my fellow students envied me a little. Knowing that my parents were working hard to support the family, I led a very fragile life in school. I had only less than half a kilogram of grain each day without any other dishes (for flavour), for 0.3 yuan a dish was too expensive for me. I saved every penny I could.
After graduation I became a middle school teacher in my village. I taught Chinese and was in charge of a class. Because I was still a young girl at that time, my students didn’t think much of me. But by and by they began to admire and like me. After one and half year’s teaching, I became an experienced teacher and got along really well with my students. They all respected me and liked me. From that, each month I earned 260 work points (points gained for working hours under collectivisation; these entitled people to a share of the produce farmed collectively).
Section 8
How much was a work point worth?
Less than 0.1 yuan.

In which year did you graduate from middle school?
1975. Then I taught in school till 1977. Then two projectionists were needed in the township. They were supposed to be educated and eloquent. I taught music in school and liked to sing in my spare time. Once the head of the township came to our school and saw me teaching singing in a class. He asked, “How old is this young girl teacher? I think she is just the person we need. She can have the job without interview or examination.”

In what way were you paid when you worked in the township, by cash or work point?
By cash. 15 yuan a month and I still received work points in the village. I was happy to go to work in the township, but my parents were reluctant to let me go, for they thought a teacher would have a better future and being a projectionist meant a lot of hard labour. At first I would not listen to them. But later I experienced all the hardship of this job. In the daytime, I had to learn the skills and maintain the machine. In the evening I rushed around showing films. Often I would not be back home until one or two at night. The work took all my time and I missed the chance to take part in entrance examinations for college because I didn’t have time to review my lessons.

What kind of vehicles did you use when you went around showing films?
We didn’t have any vehicles at all. Wherever I went, I went on foot, carrying the projector on my shoulder. Often I had to climb up and down the mountains to different villages. But I didn’t feel tired, instead I liked my job. When I got married I was still doing this job.

When did you get married?

How did you come to know your husband?
It is a long story. When I was young nobody in the village introduced boys to me.

Was it because you were beautiful, educated and working in the township?
I don’t know. But some people outside the village did. I went to a troop station to show films and a company instructor fell in love with me and proposed to me after we met a few times. But I refused and stopped seeing him anymore. He was short. I believed at that time that a person who was not handsome could not have a good heart. I had to find a handsome man as my future husband. In 1980 my younger brother went to join the army. I became the only one to support both my family and my maternal grandparents, for my elder brother was mentally handicapped from a childhood disease.
My grandma suffered from hemiplegia (paralysis) and was in bed for three years before she died in 1980. After her death, my grandpa became silent and often shed tears. On Spring Festival (major national festival every January or February, depending on the lunar calendar) I went to visit him and was shocked to see that both my grandpa and my uncle were crying. Later I learnt that they even didn’t have enough to eat when other families were celebrating. I was so upset and grieved to see their miserable condition. Then I talked with my father and went to live with my grandpa, to be adopted by my uncle. I didn’t think much of the difficulties and hardship this brought to me, I just wanted to take care of the old. The family was very poor because of my grandma’s long illness. Before long there were many boys after me. Then I met Liu Guoqing, a tall strong young man with big eyes. By and by I fell in love with him. We had our marriage registered in March and held our wedding ceremony in July.
After marriage I had planned to learn dressmaking. Both my parents-in-law gave me suggestions. But my husband didn’t agree. I no longer went to show films as often as before, so I earned less. When the machine broke down, we were hard up. I couldn’t see far into my future at that time. In 1981, I had my first child, a daughter, then a son three years later. From then for the next 15 years I stayed at home to look after the children and did all the chores at home. Though life was hard I was always reluctant to ask for help from my parents or his. So I suggested that my husband go out to earn some money in the cities. At that time I had to take care of both my family and my grandpa. Because of a certain disease, he often wet his bed at night. I never thought it was troublesome to wash his sheets and take care of him. For twelve years I did everything I could to make his old age happy and comfortable until his death in 1992. Though he was my step-grandfather I treated him as a blood one. My uncle has some hearing problem and remained single. I often worked with him in the fields.
Section 9
How much land did you have at that time?
Not much. All together 6 fen, but it was scattered in 15 different places, some were only small pieces but located far away. You can imagine the hardship we had rushing around. Anyhow we went through all those years suffering. In those years we had tried many times to raise pigs, chickens, rabbits, but each attempt was ended with failure. I began to lose heart and felt life was meaningless. I remember that on a rainy day I went to work on a piece of land 4 kilometres away from home. On my way I thought to myself, “We are born here in the mountains and we have to make our living on these mountains. If only we could dig out all the thorns and plant some medical herb.” But it was nothing more than a dream. I never thought of how to realise it.
In 1992 my grandpa was seriously ill and stayed in bed for six months, even shit and peed in the bed. I had to clean the filthy sheets all the time until he died. That was a hard time. My uncle and I worked very hard but still did not have enough to eat, while my husband’s sisters and brothers were well off. I never asked for help from them. On the contrary I was always willing to help them when they wanted me to make dresses.
Section 10
How did you learn that skill?
I can read. So I bought some books and taught myself. I also made dresses for villagers for nothing.

Did you have a sewing machine?
I borrowed my mother’s. The shoes I made for my daughter when she was a baby fascinated many women. So I often helped others make baby shoes. I also learnt to give young men haircuts. I was happy to do something for my villagers.
After my grandpa’s death, I took my children to my mother’s house and left them in my sister-in-law’s care, borrowed 500 yuan, and went to Shijiazhuang to a special school to study dressmaking without my husband’s permission. The board and lodging conditions of the school were extremely bad. Every day I satisfied my hunger with porridge only. I studied there for 20 days. Back to my village I began to work as a tailor. I could make a pair of trousers in an hour and I often worked till very late. That year I earned about 500 yuan. I was the head of the Women’s Federation in the village at that time.

You had to work and take care of the family, at the same time you were in charge of work in the village. how could you handle all these tasks?
Sometimes I left my children with my mother, sometimes with my mother-in-law so I could work. It was not easy when I was in charge of family planning work in the village. I had to bear all the misunderstanding and even curses from the villagers. I didn’t care. Later, in 93, I had the chance to visit Lingxi and Longjiucun. I saw how they benefited from planting trees. Coming back I suggested that we should follow their example. I must take the lead. So when the chance came I signed the contract for the cultivation of the hills, about 200 mu.
I talked my husband into working with me on the mountains instead of going out. A lot of people helped me. The head of the Forestry Bureau of the County sold me 400 saplings at very low price, and those were the first saplings we planted on the hills. Unfortunately there was a drought for two years, ‘93 and ‘94. To save the trees we had to carry water all the way up to the hills. Many people laughed at me: “It is sheer nonsense that a woman can seek fortune on the barren hills.” My husband also quarrelled with me. However despite the quarrels he worked hard to share the heavy burden. We were working on the hills even right after the Spring Festival. Finally villagers were moved by our painstaking labour. They said, “We can come to help you so long as you can provide some porridge to satisfy our hunger.” I knew they really meant to help. Folks came to help for a week. Later we ran out of everything, flour, rice, meat, oil. We were really hard up then. My children didn’t want to come back home, for we had nothing but plain boiled cabbages as a dish for months. I also felt downhearted. I had taken great pains but still no gains. But I would not give up halfway, never.
In 1995, we had one thousand more trees planted. We decided to build a small pool to reserve water in case of drought. It was estimated that the cost of the pool would be 10,000 yuan. Anyhow I borrowed money from my husband’s brother and the pool was built after the wheat harvest in the autumn of ‘96. But now we still owe 2000 yuan to the workers. That year we sold a pig, but all the money went to pay the debt. This year, although we have the pool, trees are not growing well. I have to borrow money, to get loans so as to plant more trees. Now we have trees from the top to the foot of the hill. We also planted some crops between the trees. The weather is dry again this year, so I borrowed another 10,000 yuan to buy a pump and pipes. For many days I spent most of my time on the mountain watering the trees. Sometimes I was so tired that I would fall asleep. The moment I woke up I would go on with watering. Those were hard days.
Section 11
Tell us something about your experience as a cadre (government official).
I have been head of the Women’s Federation in my village since 1985. In 1995, we planned to set up a school for our children. That year I was given the chance to attend a training course helped by the Association for the Promotion of Backward Areas with Long Revolutionary History (an organisation of retired revolutionaries which aims to help develop the economy and production in those areas). There I got acquainted with the old ladies I mentioned just now. With their encouragement I wrote a brief introduction to my village and handed a copy to whoever came to give us classes, asking them for help to find funds for our school. Later a cadre from central government came to give a lecture about the “the great project of helping the poor”. I went to him as soon as the lecture was over. I told him about our village and the need for a school. At the same time the head of another village also asked for help for his school. Finally they decided money should go to the village that is the most in need. In this way we got 50,000 yuan. In order to raise funds for the school I went to Beijing 17 times, to Shijiazhuang 6 times. In 1995, I was too busy rushing around to take care of my family. At last I got 130,000 yuan for the school!

As a woman, what would other people say about your running around?
Some agree; some think it is not good.

When did you become the Party secretary of your village?
I was appointed the secretary in 1995, and then I became the head of the village in 1996. No matter what the title or position is, I just want to be successful in my work. As a woman we must be as good as a man. Otherwise you will be looked down upon.

As a woman leader do you feel any special pressure?
At first there were gossips saying “She depends on her face, not her wits, at her work.” I didn’t care at all. I am honest and act squarely, so I am not afraid of gossip. It is very difficult for women to do something significant. However, the more difficult it is, the more excited and happier you will feel when you succeed. I always say to myself, “I cannot have my life as plain as water. I must have my goals and achievements.” Sometimes I was offended by the slander and gossip and got very angry indeed. But I could say nothing but swallow all the bitterness.
Section 12
Could you talk with your family about your hurt feelings?
I never do. Many topics should be avoided between husband and wife. I do not want to explain. I just wait for my success, then I think everything will be clear. Make it short (in brief), it is by no means easy to be a woman.

In your work you often have to work together with men. Do you feel any inconvenience? For example, do you mind men’s smoking?
I do not object to men’s smoking. If they made some rude jokes, I just pretend that I heard nothing. In this way I can avoid embarrassment. As the head of the village I have to deal with not only problems in production, but also those in people’s everyday life. Mediating quarrels among villagers takes lots of my time, while I really need time to study to improve myself. So I take all my spare time to read, for you have to know something about almost everything. In 1996 I worked really hard to raise funds for the construction of the school building. I think a woman’s ability cannot be proved by what she says but by what she does.

Concerning childbearing, do people have any bias against girls?
No. Now people’s minds are changing. They will accept the operation whether they have two sons or two daughters.

Do people know the law about women’s right of inheritance?
Here in most cases the woman goes to live in her husband’s family after her marriage. Then she won’t inherit the property of her parents, and vice versa. I mean if the man goes to live in his wife’s family, he won’t inherit from his own family. The wife will get the inheritance from her parents.

How is villagers’ sense of clan?
There is a strong sense of “belonging to the same clan” among the villagers. People of the same clan would help each other more than outsiders, especially at weddings and funerals.

What kind of sideline production are you doing, and how is the income?
Raising pigs. About 4000 or 5000 yuan a year.

Could you tell how much each of you has created in this family income? Who has contributed more, you or your husband?
My husband has done more, because I have to be away from home for a long time each year. My husband does most of the work, raising pigs, working on the hills.

Do men in the village usually go out to do odd jobs in cities?
Yes, about 80% of all men.

Could you feel any changes in them when they come back?
Most of them come back with skills they have learnt from towns or cities.

What do you think of it, men going out to earn some money?
Many people think it is the only way to earn money, especially to get the money for children’s schooling. I don’t think so. I don’t think it is a solution for getting rid of poverty in the long run. That’s why I would rather borrow money for cultivating the mountain than let my husband go out to earn money. If we exert our efforts on production at home, we will certainly get the long-term benefits. That will also be the guarantee for our old age.
Section 13
What do you think of the relationship between people in the village, are there any changes?
There is mutual concern among villagers. If a family is in difficulty, others will come to help; if someone becomes ill, people will come to visit to express their concerns. Maybe it is because people are living a better life now.

How about public security in the village?
We have a good atmosphere and we all live in harmony. There are some problems, but no serious ones.

How many households have TV sets?
About one-third of the households. Most are old ones given by relatives.

What kind of programs do people like best?
Many villagers have asked me to buy a receiving aerial for the village, which will cost 30,000 yuan. Some say we should build the road, some say we should have telephone first. I am thinking about it now. The key problem is we cannot apply for loans unless we produce profits from production.

Have the TV programmes had any effects on people’s way of thinking?
We have a few channels. Some people’s TVs can only receive one channel. People come to know a lot of important events from watching TV, such as Hong Kong’s return to our motherland. Also from the TV we learnt that someone from Hong Kong has donated 250,000 yuan to Longjiucun.

Are there any endemic diseases in this region?
Thyroid gland goitre, arthritis and women’s diseases. Most of the diseases are caused by overwork. Some women got ill after giving birth to babies because their husbands are away and no one takes care of them.

Where do women usually give birth?
Usually at home. If a hard labour is assumed, the woman will be taken to a hospital. When I gave birth to my first child, I was all alone at home. No one knew and [no one] came to help until the neighbours heard the crying of the baby. When my son was born, again there was no one to help me.

How about women’s education?
There are some illiterates, mostly because their families have too many children and are too poor to afford their schooling. Many are educated.

What kinds of education and training do you think are women mostly in need of?
How to educate their children? Beating and scolding is not the good way. Also we should make them understand that being a woman one should have self-esteem, should have aims and goals for our life. The most important thing is that a woman should never rely on her husband to support her. Only when a woman is economically independent can she have her say in her family. Once you set your goal, you should work hard and stick to it. We women are not at all inferior to men.
Section 14
How can you bring more changes to your hometown?
I always think the cultivation of the mountains is the best way. Also the development of raising livestock and poultry, and running of enterprises (businesses).

What do you think is the most urgent task?
Spiritual civilisation is of the most importance. I am thinking of having a tweeter installed (for amplification). Then the whole village can hear radio news and we can broadcast music. Women can dance their yangge (popular rural folk dance). Then the cable TV can bring us more information about the outside world. In future we can make our village a tourist spot to attract people. Then we can invite all people who have helped us to our village and offer them the best service free. Oh, I have so many ideas. Last year the village gave 1000 yuan to me and the Party secretary as allowance for our business trips. I said to the secretary that both of us were Party members, how could we accept this money. So we used the money to buy gongs and drums for the village. That was right before the Spring Festival. Villagers used those instruments for yangge dancing. The whole village became full of life. Even those who used to play mahjong (popular Chinese board game) came out to dance. Old and young, adults or children, everyone enjoyed themselves.

What is your greatest happiness?
To devote my whole life to the people and win their respect.

What is your biggest worry?
Failure, failure of my course.

What do you think is a successful woman?
To have ambition and the ability to realise her ambition.

Are you successful now?
No, far from that.

Do you think you have a happy family life? Who has the last word in your family?
My family is a happy one. My husband has done a lot to support me. The old saying goes that man was in charge of business while woman stayed at home. For me it is just the opposite. I have been away from home a lot. At home we listen to the one who is right.

What do you think is a good man, what is a good woman?
As a husband, the man must be faithful to his wife. And the wife must fulfil her responsibility to her family and her husband.