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Herbs, hotels and home cooking raise rural residents’ incomes

As President Xi Jinping has stated, “Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.”

The quality of the local environment has helped Shuobei, a township in Datong Hui and Tu autonomous county, Qinghai province, move closer to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the end of the year.

By developing herb cultivation and rural tourism, many people in the township, located near Xining, Qinghai’s capital, have been lifted out of poverty and some now lead relatively prosperous lives.

Thick forests cover the mountains, white clouds dot the blue sky and streams gurgle through the valleys. Occasionally, slogans printed on red boards come into sight as one drives through the mountains.

“Protect the environment like you protect your lives. Treat the environment as if it were your eyes,” one of them reads.

The county’s forestry coverage rate is 43.3 percent. For years, however, local people did not benefit from the high-quality environment.

Things have now changed. The beautiful scenery, fresh air and hospitable locals are attracting large numbers of tourists, especially during summer.

Zhao Wenke was one of 108 people from 36 families included in the national list of poverty-stricken residents in the township’s Dongzhigou village. Meat was once a luxury for the 39-year-old’s family of six, including his two sons who are 14 and 8.

When his oldest son was almost 2, the boy told his grandfather that he wanted to eat some meat. The family was so poor that the senior could only provide a piece of pork smaller than a man’s palm, Zhao recalled.

“Now, if you open my fridge, there are different types of meat, including beef and lamb. We can eat meat anytime we want,” he said.

Zhao dropped out of school when he was 15 as his mother had rheumatoid arthritis and his father was recovering from a stroke.

After helping on the family farm, he left home to find a job as a migrant worker. “I could hardly make enough to cover my parents ‘medical fees,” he said.

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