Editor's note: The Sichuan-Tibet Plateau, a beautiful region that reaches toward the heavens, is a place showered with blue skies, covered in white clouds, and dotted with snow-covered mountains, but recently, something truly remarkable has been materializing among the households that call this place home. A groundbreaking historic change has been reshaping the land and its people. From today on, we will publish a series of stories to tell you those changes.
Dec. 11, 2017 -- Jiaju's tourism industry was significantly underdeveloped, and gardening was really their only means of survival. Just to get into town required several hours of travel, and daily supplies were extremely difficult to acquire. Most people lived beneath the poverty line, and the annual per capita income was less than 1,000 yuan (151 US dollars).
Deputy Secretary of Niexia Township's CPC Committee Chen Li says that the main village road was built in 2001 using loaned funds raised by both the county and township, and this was the key to allowing the first batch of tourists to enter Jiaju.
2,000 visitors came during that year, bringing 60,000 yuan (9,064 US dollars) to the village.
When the people saw this, their hope shot through the roof that tourism could be the answer to their dire situation, but limited funds, steep mountains, narrow roads, and hazardous infrastructure served as major deterrents. Development was halted, and the villagers’ income remained exactly where it always had been.
Beautiful landscapes would be the answer to poverty, and after extensive research and investigation, not to mention due attention to locals' hopes and aspirations, Chenghua invested 44 million yuan (6.6 million US dollars) into Danba County between 2012 and 2015 to construct both the Chenghua Tourism Circuit and Jiaju-Chenghua Tourism Thoroughfare.
18.8 kilometers (11.7 miles) in length, connecting two townships and fifteen villages, the thoroughfare is not only convenient for villagers, but it also serves as a direct north-south route between the No. 211 and JiajuVillage.
The new road network has greatly improved the almost non-existent traffic conditions for scenic spots, and the door to an improved tourism industry can finally be opened for locals at Jiaju.
"Before, mud came with the rain, and dust with the sun," villagers can be heard saying today, "but now, the Jiaju-Chenghua is a golden khada [traditional white scarf] for us here in Jiaju."