Early morning June 22nd , we took the train to discover the tremendous growth and development in the city of Wuwei. Wuwei city is placed in northwest central Gansu province and is centrally located between the three western capitals, Lanzhou, Xining, and Yinchuan. It's population is about 1.9 million inhabitants with only 665400 living in urban area., and Han, Hui, Mongolian and Tujia ethnic groups are living side by side. It is position along the Hexi Corridor which earlier was the only route from central to western China and throughout Central Asia. Today it is an important transportation hub for the area, which is the core advantage that the Chinese government aim to utilize with thought the many initiatives we witnessed throughout our field trip.
We were hosted by a SPPM student and also a local government officer, Mr. Jiao. During the dinner, our hosts have introduced us to the history and facts about the City.
Wuwei social service centre, Wuwei New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry Park and Local Greenhouses
Our first step is a Wuwei social service centre as in Lanzhou, we knew the main difference here was that the head of the centre was elected by the citizens themselves, as it was at the lowest possible level of local administration and governance. After this, our host Mr. Jiao who is also a current SPPM student as well as a local officer took us to the Wuwei New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry Park, whereas we had a closer look at the production of elevators. What was special about this park is that many start-ups could get assistance when locating themselves here, and that the park itself barely wastes any energy. The journey continued to nearby greenhouse complex growing organic vegetables of high quality. Consistent sunlight and fertile soil make agriculture one of Wuwei’s biggest industries, and melons, vegetables, wine and livestock are all major agricultural products. Many of the students were impressed by the initiative whereas greenhouses highly subsidised by the central government was established by local farmers to facilitate growth of ecological vegetables of high value for export. The area was truly well organized with low waste facilities utilising the sunny weather for winter-time warm up and goat poor for gas production and fertilizers. We all enjoyed tasting some of the final products, such as watermelon and cherry tomatoes.
The final trip of the day was to visit the symbol of China tourism; the bronze horse by the Leitai Tombs of the Han Dynasty. In 1969 a farmer discovered this tomb which was built as a Temple to honor the Chinese God Leishen. It contained some two hundred and thirty outstanding relics, whereas the most important finding was the Bronze Galloping Horse supported on just one foot. We did see the real horse itself earlier at the Gansu Provincial History Museum in Lanzhou.
Gulang County Ecology Emigrant Village
Next day was the day for high-school teaching, which we had prepared beforehand. Though, our first visit was to the rural area to talk with government officers about the relocation of 10 000 households from the poor highlands to the lowlands whereas they have been trained to become farmers and leave their old ways behind to increase the general income of the families and fight poverty. The elevation in Wuwei is ranging from 1,020 to 4,874 metres. We were welcomed by a local officer who informed us about the project and we were allowed to ask questions. According to the officer, there has been no resistance from the highlanders about the relocation, and rather embracement of the new opportunities. Some of us, with knowledge of similar processes from other development countries, found this to be very interesting as government usually face scepticism is such processes of change. As we discussed about this topic, curious elders and their grandchildren showed up to get a peak of the visitors.
After this we visited the high-school in the poorer rural area of Wuwei, whereas we lectured the teenagers in english and had lunch with the staff afterwards. We were given a shot of the traditional chinese rice liquor, but only one glass as the local teachers were afraid we couldn't handle the traditional amount of two in a row. The resources was poor, the buildings were leaking and the staff pointed out the problem of poor human resources as many of the teachers lacked pedagogical education. Still, back in the bus, we agreed that compared to similar economic conditions in some of MID students home countries, the Chinese high school seem to be making the most out of their situation with their encouraging staff and hardworking students. We truly wish them all luck and success for the future!
Bonded Logistics Center
Our third stop was about the very heart of Wuwei’s current and future development; its strategic logistical location as one of the land port of the Chinese government's planned 'one belt one road' initiative; a tax free logistical site. The tax reform had finally made possible the import and export that wuwei believe to benefit from by offering their own products. The guide informed us that the site was currently hosting 6 factories, all producing for export. 33 trains had already passed through the site, and the total export had reached 30 million dollars. The port would also take care of the import of many foreign good such as wood products from russia and the balkan, meat from europe and overall food and clothes from many trade partners. The location and cool weather was highlighted and favourable conditions for the site. Other railroads are planned to be constricted, and some of the students were curious about the risk of the one belt one road initiative, especially regarding russia's blessing on China's closer collaboration with Kazakhstan.
Tsingtao factory, Wuwei Golden Apple Co. and Happy Farm
Wuwei is the most competitive production base of natural pollution-free food and high-quality agricultural specialties. It is a desirable planting area for grapes and is known as "China's Bordeaux". Thus, the rest of the day we visited a local a Tsingtao factory, a watermelon seed producer called Wuwei Golden Apple Co, a local wine ranch and finally a ‘happy farm’ for private users to grow their own vegetables for enjoyment only.
‘Panda Apartments’ and Round Table Discussion
At the very final day of our highly interesting field trip to Gansu, we visited the ‘Panda apartments’ and finished with a round table discussion with the field trip organisers from the department of agricultural development and department of education etc. As we can recall, one of the main challenges for development in Wuwei is lack of human resources, and the apartment complex was purely an initiative to attract chinese top university graduates to work in the City. The apartments were all subsidised by the government varying in size and facilities due to the education level of the residents, hence reflecting China’s ancient tradition for meritocracy and awardance of performance. Overall, we did indeed find the fieldtrip highly inspiring and awarding, and are excited about following the further development of the region and the whole one belt one road initiative!
(written by Tiril Elise Strand Johnsen)