Dragon's Village

Dragon’s Village Paper

In The Dragon’s Village, Yuan-Tsung Chen recounts her experiences as a young member of the Communist Party in the recently established People’s Republic of China.   She is sent from her comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle in Shanghai to China’s Gansu province, in the largely rural northwestern part of the country, to assist in the instituting of “land reform” in the town of Longxiang.   There she experiences the realities of the effect Revolutionary policies have on the average rural Chinese peasant, positive and negative.
The material conditions encountered by Ling-ling and her fellow cadres in the countryside present something of a culture shock to most of them, to say the least.   The majority of the inhabitants are peasants, of varying degrees of poverty.   Most are what are termed “poor” peasants who own no land and struggle to obtain enough food and other basic necessities, some are “middle” peasants who are landless but are able to make ends meet, finally the “rich” peasants, the working class who own a small amount of land and can make a small profit from their labor, sometimes even hiring an additional workman or two to assist them in their farming.   Then there are the wealthy landowners, who keep the majority of the peasant population in a kind of serf like economic servitude.   The area is very technologically backward; no one in the village owns any motorized equipment, either for farming or transportation.   There are also no telephones; any contact with other areas must be made by foot travel or ox-wagon.   There is no electricity or running water in Longxiang, either.   Being located in a dry, arid part of the country, water must be preserved as much as possible.   It was said that in the village one was only assured of having a bath on three occasions in one’s life: the day one is born, the day one is married, and the day one is buried.  
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