France commune

City dwellers find easier life in rural Chinese township

GUANZHONG, China (Reuters) – Yang Zhaoyu quit his job in a major Chinese city nine months ago and moved to a small community that preaches sustainable living and conscious consumption.

“After graduating from college, I lived a very ordinary life,” said the 30-year-old former software developer. “I went out with someone, got married and got a job.”

But Yang realized he wanted something different, so he gave up his career in Suzhou, west of Shanghai, and found a new life in a remote community centered on sustainability and agriculture. biological.

(Click on reut.rs/2MpNmtk to see a photo report on this town.)

China’s burgeoning megacities have drawn hundreds of millions of people from rural villages and small towns in search of jobs and wealth, but people like Yang are part of an emerging trend in the opposite direction.

A recent poll of people between the ages of 18 and 35 by a state think tank found that 52% of those who lived in smaller cities moved there after spending an average of three years in first-tier cities. plan, citing the fast pace of life.

Known as AnotherCommunity, Yang’s new home is an hour’s drive from the city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province, in a village called Guanzhong. It was created by Tang Guanhua, 30, and his wife, Xing Zhen, 35, in late 2015.

After one year at AnotherCommunity, residents can vote to have a say in its affairs and use shared funds and resources. There are currently five permanent members.

It is now open to the public for a four-month trial. Since mid-October, more than 20 potential residents – from former computer programmers to online English teachers and freelance videographers – have signed up to join the community.

Freelance videographer Chen Yan said she originally planned to stay only a week when she arrived in October, but ended up staying for a month.

“I lived in a room that… was half open and remained connected to the outside world, to the mountains,” says the 24-year-old.

“I stayed longer because I wanted to continue to feel this fullness, this richness.”

The community also serves as a safe space for 63-year-old transgender woman Liu Peilin, who has known Tang for several years.

In 2018 the community had to destroy much of what it had built due to pressure from the local government, although in recent months it has been left alone.

“Whatever they do, I just hope they get something out of it,” said the village Communist Party leader, surnamed Lin.

The Chinese media is full of stories of people seeking an alternative way of life in the countryside.

A newspaper reported in 2018 that a young woman had moved to the Zhongnan Mountains in Shanxi Province in search of a life as a hermit. Her story went viral on social media after her forced eviction.

These mountains have since attracted young people from all over China. At one point, the community had more than 600 residents, including many former townspeople, according to media reports.

The regional government, angered by what it saw as an incursion, demolished the illegal structures.

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Additional reporting by Tingshu Wang; Editing by Karishma Singh and Stephen Coates