White Horse Village Is the price of development a prIce worth paying?

Do the pros of development outweigh the cons?

White Horse Village was a farming community deep in western China, life there hadn't changed much for centuries, but it was to be demolished to make way for development on an epic scale. It is a story seen in many places across China and a giant leap of faith in the name of progress

White Horse Village before the development

White Horse Village lies 1000km inland from Shanghai in remote Wuxi county

The people of White Horse Village were forced out of their homes to make way for the new town. They were promised apartments and places for their children in the new school. Eventually they revived these benefits but in the interim they were housed in poor quality temporary accommodation, and it took many protests for their children to receive the school places promised to them.

Before the development separation of families was the norm, more often than not parents went to cities as migrant workers to make money. Many children hardly knew their parents, and were brought up by their grandparents. After the development lots of new jobs became available near home bringing back many of the migrant workers and reuniting families.

In the days of White Horse Village the majority of the population had been pulled out of school at a young age or had never been to school at all, but in Wuxi New Town the villagers children could go to the new high school, get an education make and lives for themselves. This school is one of the best in the province, with many of the children aspiring to go the the top universities in China, and make names for themselves in high paying and respected professions. But this will only be a benefit to the city in the long term if these young people stay in the city and improve it, instead of heading to the coastal mega cities to make more money.

The environmental effect of the development was enormous. Fields, mountains, and valleys were transformed into city blocks and motorways, the use of which produce green house gases and other pollutants. As the main source of energy in China is fossil fuels, a new town and thousands more people using the electricity and gas makes a huge difference. Also the loss of farmland means that China is more reliant on imports than ever, and the loss of drainage space can increase the likelihood of flooding.

The temporary housing for the people of White Horse Village, was in very bad condition: the roofs leaked, they were dirty, and unsafe. The villagers were furious, considering that they were promised new apartments and they were not being looked after properly by the government.

The temporary housing for the people of White Horse Village

The development was meant to spread the Chinese economy from the coastal mega cities, it did create many jobs but when the city began only one company moved from the coast to Wuxi New Town, a local man's weaving business. Many of the villagers were able to work in the new shops, but none of them owned one themselves. Also most of the shops were focused on items for redecorating homes, and many people were worried about what would happen to the cities economy after the furnishing boom was over.

In conclusion I think that the development of White Horse Village was a good idea: the children can now get aneducation, they have new, modern apartments, more opportunities for work, and the villagers have become part of the mainstream consumer economy. However I do not think that the Chinese government went about the development in the right way, I think the villagers should have been more involved in the plan for the city, and the process of building it. I also think that they should not have been forced out of their homes in such an abrupt manner, maybe the town should have been built around them so that they could move straight into the new housing before the area where the Village was could have been developed later; the government should have fulfilled their promises to the villagers sooner, and the villagers should have had better interim accommodation.

With all these issues weighed up I think the pros out way the cons. However I am not sure the people of White Horse Village would agree with me, they lost their homes, livelihoods, and everything they knew. From the outside of the situation I think it can be easy for us to assume that these people want to live in the modern world we are familiar with, and although there are positives it might just not be the way some people want to live.

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