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Painting a new growth landscape

By ALEXIS HOOI, WANG LINYAN and MA ZHENHUAN in Quzhou and Lishui, Zhejiang | China Daily| Updated: November 30, 2021 L M S

Yudong's rural paintings can be traced to the 1970s, when residents who picked up paintbrushes took lessons from local cultural center teachers who helped them create their own style and planted the seeds of art in the village.

Of Yudong's 800 residents, more than 320 are now involved with painting. The village also boasts a farmers' painting association, workshops and creative training courses.

Nearly 300 artworks by the villagers have won accolades in exhibitions and events nationwide, with the popular local art museum and other cultural centers receiving more than 50,000 visits a month. The latest works by experienced painters like Yu Tongde can sell for more than 10,000 yuan each.

The output value of businesses related to the farmers' paintings, ranging from hospitality and food to retail and branding, hit 8 million yuan in 2019 and increased to 15 million yuan last year, according to local authorities.

Villagers have also preserved and refurbished at least 50 main residential structures, using them as cafes and museums or for other updated functions that are in line with sustainable, shared development.

Yu Xiaoqin, deputy secretary of the village branch of the Communist Party of China, said the village fully taps into government support and incentives to develop Yudong's cultural, tourism and other sectors under a novel mode of development that benefits all of its residents.

"Many people have returned to take part in our development, and we're nurturing new talent. We're seeing healthy value and increasing returns from our focus on the creative cultural sector. That's all going back to the villagers," he said.

Yudong's progress is in line with Zhejiang's road to common prosperity, with the province, one of the country's most developed, designated as a demonstration zone of balanced, shared growth for the next major stages in national development.

The province aims to achieve common prosperity by 2035, with its per capita gross domestic product and the income of urban and rural residents reaching developed countries' standards.

In August, a meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, which was chaired by President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, outlined steps to promote common prosperity through high-quality growth, calling for a phased approach to reach the target.

The road to common prosperity is expected to be comprehensive and long-term, and pursued in a gradual and progressive manner, with suitable areas offering replicable practices and models.

As a key indicator of balanced development, Zhejiang's income ratio between its urban and rural residents fell to 1.96:1 last year, markedly lower than the national level, according to provincial authorities.

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