Gansu is a province of the People’s Republic of China located in the northwest of the country. It has a population of 26 million and covers an area of 425,800 square kilometers. Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province. The city is located on the banks of the Yellow River and is player in the development in the “One Belt, One Road” economic development. Though currently the second poorest province in the country only second to Tibet, Gansu Province is poised in a strategic position for economic development.
Lanzhou Agricultural Bank
After congregating at the hotel on June 20th morning, we left for our first visit at the Lanzhou Rural Agricultural Bank. Several of the leaders of the bank described to us the current status of the province’s development and the challenges it will continue to face. Gansu province is currently the second poorest province in the country only second to Tibet. In addition, the per capita GDP is lowest in the nation. For the province, many of the counties and ownership are far below China’s poverty line and it is difficult for these farmers to bring themselves out of poverty without some form of assistance. Because of this, the Agricultural Bank is currently pioneering a new system of credit establishment to encourage business development, entrepreneurship, and economic development in these regions. Though there are many challenges posed for the city, province, and bank, the remain steadfast and optimistic to reach the nation’s 2020 goals strategic plan of bringing the majority of China out of poverty.
After the banquet, we met with the Ministry of Education and professors from Lanzhou University at Lanzhou University and they described the current situation in Gansu Province and what the future of education will be like in Gansu province. The entire province has extremely diverse environment and geography. In Lanzhou alone there are over 30 minority groups with 4 of them being native to Gansu. There has been a lot of financial input put toward primary compulsory education and technology -- 84% of the population covered with internet now. In addition, poor households receive 2000RMB subsidies to send their children to kindergarten. These incentives and attempts and increasing province-wide education is providing a basic education to more and more of the population.
At the university level, Lanzhou University is one of the prestigious 211 universities and ranked within the top 30 in the nation. Lanzhou is part of the “One Belt One Road” Alliance with over 40 universities part of the alliance. Lanzhou University was founded in 1909 Gansu is identified as an important point for domestic and international exchange and cooperation on research and a main proponent in the formation of the Silk Road Economic belt and cooperation.
In a prelude in September 2013, president Xi Jin Ping raised the idea of the SREB during a visit to Kazakhstan to promote international connectivity and set up a US $40 billion Silk Road fund. This fund established Asian infrastructure. The government will invest in policy support and the building of cooperative mechanisms breakthrough development for the building up of sufficient support for the intellectual support and research within the study. The main cooperative partners will be Central Asian countries, but several Central Asian countries remain wary of China, which negatively affects their enthusiasm to participate.
Silk Road International Tourism Festival
To close off the night, we attended the Opening Ceremony of the Sixth Dunhuang tour -- the Silk Road International Tourism Festival which was held at the Gansu Grand Theatre which included a performance by the Lanzhou Performance & Arts Groups and organized by the Gansu Provincial Tourism Development Commission and Lanzhou Municipal People’s Government, The beautiful display and artistry
Stephen Weedon, Class of MID 2015 describes the “Tales of the Silk Road” as a beautiful display of artistry and a fictional take on a love story about the artist and his war lord lover but it’s forbidden love because her father was a general that did not approve of the relationship so she saved his life in the desert and stole his art from him and gave it back to him when they met again in the grotto and dies saving his life.”
Lanzhou Urban Planning Museum
On June 21st, we departed from the hotel early in the morning and our first stop was the Lanzhou Urban Planning Museum –The Lanzhou Urban Planning Museum, located on the cusp of the Yellow River Museum was four floors of different displays that highlighted the historical importance of the region and incorporated feats of technological advancements showcasing the hopes for the province. Through light maps and shows, 4D films, sheep skin raft simulations, the planning museum depicted the pride of the Silk Road history and the significant amount of effort aimed at the revitalization of the economic trade and cooperation.
After the Urban Planning Museum, we had the opportunity to visit a traditional museum focused more on the culture and history of the ancient civilizations including people and lifestyle. The state of Qin became the founding state of the Chinese empire and grew out of the southwestern part of Gansu. In imperial times, Gansu was an important strategic outpost and communications link for the Chinese Empire. Along the Silk Road, Gansu was an economically important province and cultural transmission path.
For a special luncheon with the leaders of the Lanzhou Agricultural Bank, effort was spend describing the importance of international cooperation and learning one another’s cultures and histories. The lunch overlooked both the Yellow River and the Baita (White Pagoda) Mountains. The head of the table went around the table toasting each guest at the dinner and gave a small speech to describe the customs China and Gansu Province. The local foods including beef noodles, a special radish found only in the desert, yak meat, and cod from the Yellow River were among the foods served at the lunch.
Xihu Sub district Office Qilihe District
The Xihu subdistrict office was government on the small scale – community based and treated the government like a production line for effectiveness. The production center had won many awards and accolades including recognition from President Xi Jin Ping. At the office, there were call centers and different levels of management that help optimize community resources and connecting them to community members.
There is a special phenomenon in China that goes further than the “empty nest” regarding the aging society. Because the pension system is still underdeveloped, when elders of communities don’t havechildren to be able to rely on, life becomes extremely difficult. These sub district offices help to utilize the resources provided to them and distribute them to the older people in their communities such as providing healthcare and engaging them in community activities.
(written by Charlsie Chang)