On the Road in China: The Rural Heartland

High Taxes, Government Corruption Mark Life in the Countryside

Zhou Jianming

hide captionZhou Jianming is a resident of the rural Anhui province. Local government officials took some of her land and sold it to a company building a pharmaceutical factory.

» SEE A MAP OF GIFFORD'S JOURNEY, MORE ON THE SERIES
Rob Gifford, NPR
Wu Faliang tills his tiny plot of land with a water buffalo and wooden plow.

hide captionIn central Anhui province, Wu Faliang tills his tiny plot of land with a water buffalo and wooden plow.

Rob Gifford, NPR

As NPR's Rob Gifford continues his 3,000-mile journey across China, he comes to the province of Anhui, in the country's rural heartland. It's where free-market reforms were launched 25 years ago, after Deng Xiaoping succeeded Mao as supreme leader.

Given that history of reform, Anhui should be wealthier than it is. But farmers still use water buffalo and wooden plows. Young people have left to look for work in the cities, leaving behind only the old or the very young. And local authorities are as powerful and capricious as ever.

It's the second of seven reports from Gifford's 14-day trek to China's westernmost reaches.

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