Reform to Transform Country Life

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHNNY REED

YOU'D have to be seriously preoccupied not to realise that Chinese New Year was just around the corner.

The streets are festooned with red and gold decorations.

Slogans on shops exhort passers-by to spend their way to a better future.

"New year new image" is one of the favourites, and we all know you can't do that without a bit of personal investment.

Many factories have closed for three weeks and, with order books thin, been rather glad of it.

Lucky employees who received a hong bao, the red envelope containing their New Year bonus, might just be persuaded to spend.

Shopkeepers may be disappointed, but restaurants have been fully booked for ages.

However bad things are, nothing gets in the way of eating.

At this time of year, everyone eats with their relations.

If granny still lives in the countryside, the family will head there.

At the moment, rural communities have an ageing population.

The young seek work in the cities and grandparents are left to tend the family plot.

When they all sit down to dinner on the eve of the year of the ox, the subject of family land may be a new hot topic. …