Making Capitalism in Rural China
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Making Capitalism in Rural China

Michael Webber

This stimulating and challenging book explores the duplicitous nature of development in China. On the positive side, it brings longer and healthier lives; fewer children dead before they are five years old; more comfort and security from famine and disaster; more education; more communication; more travel; less war. But from another, darker perspective, development brings violence to some people – those who are in the way of the new things, those who cannot adapt to the new ways – and it threatens old knowledges, habits and societies as it disrupts old power structures.
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Chapter 2: Rich Wang’s Village: Marketing the Dairy Economy

Michael Webber


1 Beidaolaban (北倒拉板) is a village of about 3000 people in Hohhot (also called Huhehaote) municipality, Inner Mongolia (Figure 2.1 locates the places discussed in this chapter). It is Rich Wang’s village.2 The Wang brothers grew up there in the early days of the revolution. After agricultural reforms started in the late 1970s they went to Hohhot city to find work as builders’ labourers. They struck lucky, becoming friends with a developer who was using his position in the Hohhot government to acquire land for redevelopment. Starting small, the developer and the Wangs built modest apartment blocks and then increasingly large urban fringe redevelopments. The developer moved on, but the Wangs remained in Hohhot, growing their corporation. Their construction company (JuHua Group) had over RMB 1 billion in total assets in 2005. With an average annual per capita rural income of RMB 2900 in 2005, Inner Mongolia is a poor part of China. Southern Inner Mongolia, between Hohhot and the Yellow River (including Beidaolaban), has below average incomes for the province. Helingeer has been a national-level poverty county.3 Farmers here pasture cattle, goats and sheep, particularly in the hillier regions; cultivate rain-fed and irrigated wheat and corn (commonly fed to dairy cattle); and grow rain-fed and irrigated vegetables for home consumption and urban markets. Mongols comprise a minority of the population of Inner Mongolia, and the south (including Helingeer) is virtually entirely populated by Han Chinese.4 Twenty years after the Wangs moved off to Hohhot, their old village began to change....

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