Video: Turning back the clocks to communist China

2008-01-22
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While the rest of China races ahead to the future, Nanjie has turned its clocks back to the 1960s. It has become fully communist again. AFP Video > >> Watch the video

While the rest of China races ahead to the future, Nanjie has turned its clocks back to the 1960s and become fully communist again. For residents here, everything is free—food, housing, education, clothing—but in return, they own nothing. Tributes to Chairman Mao are everywhere. The village has drawn media attention, and curious tourists from elsewhere in China.

Huang Zunxian's living room is lit by just one dim lightbulb. It's dark, but not gloomy. His faith in the Communist Party is his guiding light.

Huang Zunxian, 72, Nanjie village resident, said: "As common people we only have one thing to do, listen to the Party leadership, and do whatever they say. To stay healthy and contribute more to Nanjie village, that's what we think."

The people of Nanjie village in China's central province of Henan are living history, a throwback to 1960s China. They have rejected the market reforms that have swept the country and returned to a collective economy.

Residents here say they have no desire for the luxury products the rest of China is flocking to buy.

There are few people in the streets, most are at work in the village-owned factories. There products range from instant noodles to consumer packaging, and the profits sustain the local economy. Instead of a salary, workers receive free housing and food, health care, and education.

Wang Hongbin has served as Communist Party secretary in Nanjie for more than 30 years.

As the top-ranking official, he oversees the running of the village. The sign hanging over his desk is an old Chairman Mao quotation, and reads "Serve the People."

"Nanjie village has developed a collective economy, to walk down the path of gaining wealth. This was Mao Zedong's thought, strategy, and policy," he says.

There is no advertising in Nanjie, but Communist propaganda is plastered on buildings, and blasted over the airways.

Nanjie also has a multi-million-dollar park dedicated to showcasing the life of Mao. In it are replicas of various houses where he once lived.

Mao's prominence here, and the fact that people are still living out his ideology, have turned Nanjie into a tourist attraction. Souvenir shops are capitalizing on the steady flow of curious visitors. No one in Nanjie is opposed to bringing in money; they've just opted to share it equally.

"All the tourists are jealous. We live by Mao's philosophy," said Wang Xinchao, an assistant in the shop.

The village's 3,500 commune members are proud to still be living according to Mao's word. But they are a tiny holdout, as the rest of China's 1.3 billion people rush towards capitalism.

Blog: RFA Unplugged

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