The spirit of ‘Large Village in South China’ inherited in Cili County

By Zhang Ziwei | Updated : Jun 08, 2021
The Cili County section of Changsha-Zhangjiajie Expressway is known as "the most beautiful green passage in Hunan Province". It is about 70 kilometers away from Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to Cili West Exit, almost 40 minutes’ drive, where the Lishui River winds its way and lush trees can be seen along the way.

Heading from Cili westward, the Loushui River is alongside the 518 Provincial Highway. The Loushui River, like a simple young lady, is more modest but charming than the Lishui River. Changyupu Village, Cili County is just like a bead on the girl's bracelet, where sweat makes it more eye-catching.

The "Large Village in South China" is built by manpower

Up along the Loushui River, a terraced field of nearly 100 mu (about16.5 acres) can be seen on the top of the stone mountains, with four Chinese characters "Nan Fang Da Zhai" (also referred to as the "Large Village in South China") on it. Just driving on the bridge across the Loushui River, you will reach Changyupu Village.

The "Large Village in South China" is an honorary title awarded to Changyupu Village by the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee in the autumn of 1973.

Changyupu Village used to be poor and dilapidated. There were no paddy fields for the karst landform made it impossible to store water, and most of the households were "even short of food". Huang Bingxiu, Secretary of the Party branch, led the whole village to construct dams along the mountain streams and build terraces on the stone mountains for ten years, carrying forward the spirit of tenacity to change the harsh conditions.

Stone symbolizes perseverance. Up the steps from the terraces to the top, it can be seen that nearly a thousand families' fields are enclosed with whole and broken pieces of stones.

"It's all built by manpower. Unicycles were the best ‘mechanization’ and there were very few of them," said Huang Bingxiu, who is already 83 years old, but still has a fresh memory of this period. "The first battle was in Yanban trench, where there were many rocks and only a little arable land. Through fighting for a whole winter, a piece of land reaching 3.2 mu (0.53 acres) was created and more than 1,500 kg of corn were harvested in the autumn of the second year."

The steel rod went down inch by inch, but the terraces popped out one by one. Villagers blew up more than 6,000 protruding rocks, filled 58 sinkholes, built two reservoirs and nearly 10,000 meters of diversion canals. Besides, a thousand of rock ridges and nearly 2,000 mu of terraces were built, turning the original barren land to fertile fields with the average yield of corn per mu (0.16 acres) increased from 100 kilos to 550 kilos, which helped it won the title “Large Village in South China”.

In Ganxigou, the culverts, which are 3 meters high, 5 meters wide and 4 kilometers long, are all made of stones in arch shapes, and have been able to perform their functions so far. Liu Shouyun, a 75-year-old man who has participated in the construction, said that more than 200,000 culverts were built with more than 20,000 stones. Above the culvert, villagers picked up soil to cover and sort out more than 130 mu (21.4 acres) of usable land.

Terraces, culverts, reservoirs and pools, be large or small, all demonstrate the courage, tenacity and perseverance of the older generation whether it is a large one or small one.

Inherit the spirit of tenacity from generation to generation

"Since 2010, dozens of foreign agricultural experts have come to the village to study dry grain cultivation each year." At noon, Li Hongzhi, 58-year-old director of the County Institute of drought and grain science, rushed back from the base and was ready to go down to the field to record the growth of crops again. In 1985, he worked in Changyupu Village after graduation, and devoted himself to scientific research for 36 years.

"The spirit of the older generation inspired me a lot," said Li Hongzhi. The new mode of dry grain production explored by Changyupu Village has not only increased the income of farmers in the village, but also has been promoted in many places. The basic planting data of corn, sweet potato, rape and soybean have contributed to the improvement of crop varieties in the whole province. "The rapeseed oil, fried corn, beans and other products produced in the village are very popular and sold well."

What Li Hongzhi said is the proof of the diligence and hard work of Changyupu people. Through continuous exploration and high-quality cultivation, the per capita income of villagers has been rising, reaching more than 15,000 yuan last year.

In the new era, Changyupu Village integrates the past achievements into a high-quality hiking route by making use of the popularity of "Large Village", to build a party spirit education base. Thanks to the tenacious "Large Village" spirit, it has attracted many tourists nowadays.

"More than 300 people dine at the same time in one day." Zhu Fang, who has invested more than 3 million yuan in the construction of "Changyupu Canteen" by taking advantage of tourism popularity, told reporters that since September last year, the turnover of catering and accommodation has exceeded 3 million yuan. "15 rooms are obviously not enough, so we plan to expand it again."

Not far from "Changyupu Canteen", two tunnels on Luzi Expressway are under construction. Entering the cave, various high-tech construction methods are far beyond the original manpower. Wang Shenglong, Secretary of the general Party branch of the village, is looking forward to the opening of this expressway. "This will greatly promote both the agricultural industry and rural tourism industry in the village, thus giving impetus to the rural revitalization."

With the development of tourism, Changyupu Village reconstructs a village history museum with an area of 1,000 square meters by using the original old buildings. Through various forms such as sculpture, painting, photos, etc., people can recall those old struggling days.

Edited by Li Ling 

2019 Zhangjiajie Bureau of Culture, Tourism, Broadcasting and Sports