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Hundred miles of azalea blossoms create economic fortunes in southwest China's Guizhou

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Hundred miles of azalea blossoms create economic fortunes in southwest China's Guizhou

2024-04-23 05:55 Last Updated At:04-24 00:06

The Azalea Scenic Area in Bijie, southwest China's Guizhou Province, has seen its sea of flowers reaching full bloom in recent days, ushering in the year's most colorful and beautiful season.

Over a million tourists flock to the scenic area each spring to see the riot of color and vibrant hues of azaleas as far as the eye can see.

"It gives people a wonderful feeling, as the azaleas along the way uphill are bright and beautiful, giving me a sense of freedom and openness," said Chen Fangfang, one of the tourists from northwest China's Gansu Province.

The scenic zone, a once impoverished region, has revitalized its rural areas through focused development of its scenic and cultural assets.

The park is considered the most beautiful and colorful belt of azaleas on Earth, as these stunning colors of azaleas stretch as far as 100 miles, earning it's name "Baili Dujuan", meaning "one-hundred mile Azalea" in Chinese.

It's also the world's largest preserved primitive azalea forest, crowded with over 40 Azalea species.

Yet, there's a backstory to this floral spectacle, on how 150,000 residents nurtured a laid-back town into a present-day national agricultural-tourism success story, and a model for China's rural vitalization.

"Nearly 50,000 people, that's about one-third of the population, rely on the flower-viewing economy to increase income in Baili Dujuan District. By developing different scenic spots, residents' income has increased. Many of them depend on tourism for a living," said Ding Lian, deputy head of the scenic area's tourism bureau.

In 2013, the park was accorded the highest rating of 5A in China's classification of tourist destinations. Since then, officials say the Baili Azalea Scenic Area has attracted tens of millions of domestic and international tourists.

Every blossom season, tens of thousands of tourists visit the park at any given day.

But the park's operations go beyond the peak bloom season.

"People come here to appreciate the azaleas in spring, to cool off during summer and enjoy the hot springs in winter. These three seasons help boost the sustainable development of tourism in Baili Dujuan for the whole year," said Meng Delin, operation manager of the scenic area.

The marriage of governance with foresight, people participation, preservation of nature, respect for culture, and reasonable use of science and technology, has helped the businesses of Huijing Flower Science and Technology Park prosper.

It's a company dedicated to propagating Azalea species that bloom for one month longer.

More than that, the park is also doing business with customers outside Guizhou, or even outside China.

"We send all in this size to South Korea and Vietnam. They also like it very much. The South Korean people, they like it during the spring time, they sell it in the spring time. And also the Vietnam people, they are buying [during] our Chinese New Year. So they use it to decorate their house or office," said Tong Xiaozhe, manager of Huijing Flower Science and Technology Park.

Since its establishment in 2022, the company has hired dozens of local farmers, providing them not just with alternative income, but also advanced skills training to ensure a better harvest of azaleas.

Fifteen-seven-year-old Ye Xianghui is one of the farmers-turned-gardeners.

Before joining Huijing, she planted potatoes and corn, making less than 400 yuan or some 55 U.S. dollars per month.

But now her income has seen a nearly tenfold increase after working as a gardener here.

"I used to live on planting crops and doing farm work, with very little income. Now, at the flower science and technology park, I can make more than 3,000 yuan (about 414 U.S. dollars) per month. I can take care of my family, and even raise pigs and cows. The job is easier and cleaner. I can wear clean clothes and shoes. And it's not tiring. I'm very happy with my life now," she said.

As millions flock to see the wonder of the scenic area every year, and as Bijie City enjoys prosperity as a result, it is assuring to know that every effort is made to leave no member of the community behind.

Hundred miles of azalea blossoms create economic fortunes in southwest China's Guizhou

Hundred miles of azalea blossoms create economic fortunes in southwest China's Guizhou

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PLA drills demonstrate resolve to defend territorial integrity: military experts

2024-05-24 22:51 Last Updated At:23:07

The joint military drills surrounding Taiwan Island conducted by Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is unprecedented in adopting a new mode to send a clear warning to the separatist forces pursuing "Taiwan independence", demonstrating the resolve to defend China's territorial integrity, according to Chinese military experts.

The Eastern Theater Command of the PLA on Friday continued joint drills surrounding the Taiwan Island.

Integrated operations inside and outside the island chain have been conducted to test the command's capabilities to jointly take control of battlefield and launch joint strikes, and to seize control of crucial areas, according to a spokesperson for the theater command.

The spokesperson said the drills serve as a strong punishment for the separatist acts of "Taiwan independence" forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces.

Major General Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, said from the PLA's close-in move, the military drills are unprecedented, just a step away from the coastline of the island of Taiwan.

Meng said that the PLA's drills focused on practicing a new mode of blockading the Taiwan Island.

"Taiwan is an isolated island in the sea. Its economy is export-oriented. A blockade of the island can easily lead to its economic collapse, turning it into a dead island. The PLA's joint drills this time is forming strong firing points by connecting all those key targets to the north, south and east of the island, just as we see in the map. The only thing required to form a firing line is a 'rope' or 'chain', and this 'chain' can put the 'Taiwan independence' forces in a chokehold. In other words, the more attempts and provocations the separatist forces in Taiwan make, the tighter the 'rope' will be," said Meng.

Zhang Chi, a mainland military expert, also noted that the drills to the north of the island deter important political and military targets, and the drills to the south of the island targeting Taiwan's important base for the island's naval force are crucial for the blockade. Meanwhile, drills to the east of Taiwan are designed to practice cutting off the island's energy imports, the escape routes of the "Taiwan independence" forces and the support line from the external forces, he said.

The PLA Eastern Theater Command started joint military drills surrounding Taiwan from 07:45 Thursday.

Military services including the army, navy, air force and rocket force of the theater command have been organized to conduct the joint drills, code-named Joint Sword-2024A, according to the spokesperson for the theater command.

The drills focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets.

Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities came to power in 2016, the PLA has conducted multiple drills around the island to deter secessionists. Some experts from the island pointed out that the mainland's military deterrence will continue to proceed following every rampant provocation by the DPP authorities.

In August 2022, the DPP authorities colluded with then U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her visiting Taiwan. The PLA's following military drills in waters off the Taiwan Island were reported as crossing the so-called "median line of the Taiwan Strait". Meng's remarks that there is no such thing as a "median line in the Strait" became a hot topic of Taiwan's media.

In April 2023, in response to Tsai Ing-wen's "transit" trip to the United States, the PLA conducted military drills and sent aircraft carrier Shandong. The island's public attention was highly focused on the Shandong's appearance off Taiwan's east coast. Experts on the island held the view that the Shandong's sailing through the waters near Miyako Island and crossing the "First Island Chain" indicated that the so called "rear area" that the DPP had always boasted no longer exists.

The joint military drills this time are meant to deter Taiwan separatist forces pursuing "Taiwan independence", and counter the "two-states" fallacy made by Taiwan region new leader Lai Ching-te during his inauguration speech on Monday.

When the joint military drills conducted this time, a coast guard fleet of east China's Fujian Province on Thursday also conducted a law-enforcement drill in the waters near Wuqiu and Dongyin islands. According to the released map, the fleet formation was only 2.8 nautical miles away from Wuqiu Island and only 3.1 nautical miles away from Dongyin Island, sailing into the so-called "forbidden and restricted waters" set by the DPP authorities.

Liu Kuangyu, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that the PLA's drill mode adopted after Pelosi's Taiwan visit is still improving and gets strengthened, and the drills of this mode aimed at surrounding and blockading the island will become a new normal.

PLA drills demonstrate resolve to defend territorial integrity: military experts

PLA drills demonstrate resolve to defend territorial integrity: military experts

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