Zouping: A starting point for learning about China's rural areas

(chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2021-05-17

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Former president of the US Jimmy Carter (L) and his wife talk with local villagers in Zouping, a county-level city in East China's Shandong province in 1997. [Photo/sdchina.com]

Zouping, a county-level city in East China's Shandong province, has played an important role in helping American scholars learn about China's rural areas after the country's reform and opening-up policy in 1978.

Zouping was chosen as an investigation site for China's rural areas when the country and the United States signed an agreement to exchange students and visiting scholars in 1979.

Former president of the US Jimmy Carter and more than 500 American historians, economists, sociologists, environmentalists and agronomists have since visited the county-level city.

The investigation focused on organizational structure, economic development, and folk customs in Zouping and its social changes after reform and opening up. The results have been introduced to the American people through articles, books and lectures given by the scholars.


Michel Oksenberg (R), a political scientist from the United States, visits an electric power plant in Zouping in 1989. [Photo/sdchina.com]

Michel Oksenberg, an American political scientist, visited Zouping in 1989. He made a speech after returning to America and spoke highly of the role the Communist Party of China has made in promoting the development of villages in China.

Carter and his wife visited villages and schools in Zouping in 1997. During the trip, he praised the progress that China's rural areas have made over the years. "China has made significant development. It's unbelievable," he said.

After his visit, Cater published an article on the New York Times that sought to correct the misconceptions that Western countries had about China, explained the past and future development of China and the US, and stated that the two countries should maintain good relations.

The move not only played a positive role in helping the American people understand China but also promoted the city's opening up and expanded its influence in the world. Foreign affairs in Zouping have also improved and become the key to promoting the city's economic and social development.   


 The former site of a foreign guests building set up by Zouping to receive visiting American scholars [Photo/sdchina.com]