Yimeng spirit alive and well in Shandong

By Xu Yiyi and Zhao Ruixue in Linyi, Shandong| (chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2021-04-16

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Liu Jiakun, Party secretary of Jiujianpeng, checks the growth of honeysuckle. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Linyi, Shandong province, one of the country's old revolutionary bases, has revitalized development in its rural areas.

Linyi has long been known as the cradle of the "Yimeng spirit" cultivated during China's struggle for liberation in the 1930s and 40s.

During the 12 years of revolutionary war (1938-49), more than 1.2 million of the total 4.2 million population living in the Yimeng Mountain area made efforts to support the Red army. More than 200,000 of those in the area joined the army to fight.

Their spirit of hard work, self-improvement, selflessness and dedication was named for Yimeng Mountain. Ever since, the "Yimeng spirit" has inspired generations of Chinese people and even today continues to shine in many ways, including the local people's fight against poverty.

In Linyi, a total of 451,000 people were lifted out of poverty during the 13th Five Year Plan period (2016-20). The average annual net income of local people increased from 2,566 yuan ($393) in 2016 to 7,481 yuan in 2020.

Jiujianpeng village in Pingyi county, with its harsh natural environment, was once one of Shandong's poorest, but over the decades it has seen great changes in both its natural living environment and people's livelihoods.

Liu Jiakun, Party secretary of Jiujianpeng, said the village has formed a development pattern based on the growth of tourism, agriculture and medicine.

"We started the water treatment and afforestation in 1984 to turn our village into a better place with electricity, running water and roads," Liu said.

Currently, all households in the village have access to infrastructure, including paved roads and other facilities, such as standardized toilets for tourists and dozens of parking lots. In addition, more than 120 street lamps have sprouted in the village.

Tourist attractions such as folk culture exhibition halls, sightseeing platforms and campsites have been built to attract tourists. The annual number of tourists visiting Jiujianpeng has now reached nearly 300,000, generating more than 26 million yuan per year.

The village has given full play to Pingyi county's rich honeysuckle resources, and the county now styles itself as the hometown of honeysuckle flowers in China.

"A whole industrial chain featuring honeysuckle flowers has taken shape in the village, covering aspects from the breeding of high-quality honeysuckle species to the research and development of relevant traditional Chinese medicines and food," Liu said.

The village has invested 300 million yuan to renovate and standardize Shandong New Continent Pharmaceutical Co in Pingyi, the first to undergo such changes in the county. The company's production value this year is expected to exceed 100 million yuan.