Yimeng Mountains' fast track to success

2021-01-04 12:05:42

Bian Chengfei (right), a Linyi-based embroidery craftswoman, showcases her skills on a high-speed train. ZHAO RUIXUE/CHINA DAILY The Yimeng Mountains, an old revolutionary base in East China's Shandong province, has bid farewell to poverty and taken on a new lease of life thanks to the opening of a high-speed railway about a year ago. On Nov 26, 2019, a rail line entered operation in Shandong, bringing the Yimeng Mountains, which are now administered by the city of Linyi, into the country's fast-developing high-speed rail network for the first time. The newly launched section, which links the province's cities of Rizhao and Qufu, stretches for 235 kilometers and includes eight stations, such as Linyi and Mengshan, home to the Yimeng revolutionary base. Among those benefiting is 36-year-old Bian Chengfei, a Linyibased embroidery craftswoman and an inheritor of the area's intangible cultural heritage. She travels to dozens of cities across the country each year to exchange ideas with her counterparts, all thanks to the high-speed rail service. "The railway has slashed the travel time between my hometown of Linyi and Beijing, and now it only takes 3 hours and 18 minutes," says Bian who has visited the capital city several times in the past year. "The high-speed railway not only allows us to spread awareness of the 1,000-year-old embroidery culture of the Yimeng Mountains at major cultural expos across the country, but also attracts more attention to the delicate skills and various products," she adds. Bian now runs a workshop in the Cuijiagou village in Linyi with over 300 employees, most of whom are women left behind by their husbands who seek work in bigger cities, and the physically disabled. The job can bring them an additional income of 20,000 yuan ($3,000) each year. Farmers in the region have also benefited from more convenient transportation, with more business opportunities pouring in. "The new railway makes it much easier for us to sell our agricultural products, because it is convenient for our clients to visit the area and inspect the supply," says Niu Qinghua, who is in charge of a local company selling agricultural and agriculture-related products. A number of villages in the region have also noticed the potential for earning tourism revenue, with more holidaymakers embarking on countryside retreats. In recent years, a number of remote and impoverished revolutionary bases such as Yimeng have been included in the country's fast-growing high-speed railway network, and more villagers have shaken off poverty thanks to the improved transport infrastructure and other support from local governments. According to statistics released by the China State Railway Group Co, China's railway was expected to stretch around 145,000 km by the end of 2020, including more than 38,000 km of high-speed lines. "In the past, many marketable products and potential tourism resources deep in the mountains would be unable to connect with customers. Nowadays, however, the rail service helps to boost sales and promote local employment," says Yang Hao, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University. Xinhua