In the past decade, Dulongjiang township in Gongshan county, Yunnan province has undergone significant changes that have transformed it from one of China’s most remote, closed, and poorest areas to a modern and digitalized region. Despite its history of isolation due to deep gorges and snowcapped mountains, the township has managed to adapt to the modern world with the help of a newly constructed tunnel that provided access to the outside world in 2014.
Home to one of the smallest ethnic groups in China, the Derung people, Dulongjiang township was once considered to be inaccessible and isolated. However, with the advent of modern infrastructure, the area has witnessed a remarkable transformation. The township’s ability to embrace modernity is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Derung people who have managed to maintain their unique cultural identity while at the same time embracing modernization.
The digitalization of Dulongjiang township has opened up opportunities for its residents and has allowed the area to compete on a level playing field with more developed regions. The township’s newfound access to modern technology has also provided new avenues for economic growth and development. With improved communication and access to information, the area is now better positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace.
Despite the significant progress made in recent years, Dulongjiang township still faces numerous challenges, including poverty and the preservation of its unique cultural heritage. However, with the continued support of the government and other stakeholders, the township is well-positioned to address these challenges and continue its journey towards a prosperous and sustainable future.
The Derung people had been living a primitive way of life for hundreds of years. They used to sleep in thatched homes, cross rivers through rope crossings, and climb mountains on handmade vine ladders. However, with the advent of modern infrastructure and technology, their way of life has undergone a remarkable transformation.
The adoption of modern technology has brought about significant changes in the lives of the Derung people. They no longer have to rely on traditional methods of transportation or endure harsh living conditions. The construction of modern homes and the availability of basic amenities such as electricity and clean water has greatly improved their quality of life.
Despite the significant changes, the Derung people have managed to preserve their unique cultural heritage. They have continued to practice their traditional way of life and maintain their traditional customs and beliefs. The coexistence of modernity and tradition in the lives of the Derung people is a testament to their ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.
The mountainous terrain posed a significant challenge to travel between Gongshan county and the town, with the 79.6-kilometer mountain road featuring a staggering 794 bends. It was an arduous journey that took all day, starting at 8 am and ending at sunset.
In February of this year, we returned to the area and found that the situation had drastically changed. The journey now only took two hours due to the construction of new and modern infrastructure, making travel to the town much more accessible and convenient. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a picturesque scene of brand-new dwellings, surrounded by clear rivers and lush greenery.
The modernization of the area has led to the replacement of the once-shaky single-log bridges with sturdy modern structures, ensuring safe and efficient transportation across the rivers. The transformation of the area has not only made travel easier and more convenient, but it has also provided opportunities for economic growth and development.
The journey from Gongshan county to the town may no longer be as grueling, but the area’s unique beauty and cultural heritage remain. The modernization of the region has allowed for the preservation of the area’s natural beauty and cultural identity, while at the same time, providing new opportunities for growth and prosperity.
In the modern age, nearly everyone in the region has access to a mobile phone, except for a few of the elderly and young children. E-commerce, express delivery, and livestreaming have become commonplace in the area, representing a significant shift from the region’s past isolation and limited access to technology. Moreover, students in the area enjoy free education from kindergarten to senior middle school, ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the modern world.
The region’s population of 5,000 boasts an impressive 1,036 automobiles, highlighting the impact of improved infrastructure and connectivity. This represents a significant change from the past when travel in the area was limited and difficult due to the rugged terrain and lack of modern transportation options. The region’s newfound connectivity has not only improved transportation but has also opened up new opportunities for economic growth and development.
The photos taken in 2012 and this year serve to highlight the impact of the country’s poverty alleviation and rural vitalization programs. These programs have brought about significant changes in the lives of the people in the region, from improved infrastructure to increased access to technology and education. The transformation of the region over the past decade is a testament to the government’s commitment to improving the lives of those in rural areas and the resilience and adaptability of the local community.
While much progress has been made, there are still challenges to be addressed, such as the need to ensure that economic growth is sustainable and equitable, and the importance of preserving the unique cultural identity of the region. However, the transformation of the region over the past decade provides hope for a brighter and more prosperous future for those living in rural areas across the country.