GUIZHOU, China – Fresh, comfortable, and exceptional -- these are some of the characteristics that best describe the City of Liupanshui in the Province of Guizho, dubbed as “The Cool City of China.”

The year-round temperature is 15 degrees Celsius, a perfect place to escape from the scorching summer heat.

Liupanshui, a kosher mountain city park, is situated in the Wumeng Mountain of western Guizhou. The name of the city combines the three counties -- Liuzhi, Panzhou City, and Shuicheng.

Its location made the city as the ‘overpass’ of four provinces and the intersection of provinces including Sichuan, Kunming, Guangxi and Chongqing.

Liupanshui is one of the 66 regional cities and 196 road traffic hub cities in the “One Belt and One Road” and Yangtze River Economic Planning.

In 2017, the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region reached more than 146.171 billion RMB, up by 11%. The general public budget revenue went up to 13.863 billion RMB, an increase by 6.08%.

Abundant mineral resources

When People’s Republic of China Chairman Mao Zedong pushed for third-tier constructions to be strengthened in 1964, Liupanshui “unleashed” its mineral resources.

There are more than 30 types of mineral resources present in the city including coal, iron, manganese, zinc, and basalt.

There are about 84.4 billion tons of prospective reserves of coal resources. This is an important part of the Yungui coal base, which is one of 14 national coal bases and the largest coking coal base in south of the Yangtze River, also known as Jiangnan Coal Capital.

Today, Liupanshui is known for its sea coal in the southwest, steel city in Wumeng, railway terminal, and its energy base in southwest China.

Home of wild kiwi

Liupanshui is a typical low-latitude and high-altitude mountainous area, making it very suitable for growing kiwifruit. The total area of the wild kiwifruit in this region covers 1.63 million mu, with 2.9 million strains.

The area of development and utilization in Liupanshui is 600 thousand mu, which makes it the "Land of Chinese Wild Kiwifruit ".

Kiwifruit is also known as Yang Tao, Mao Li and ‘Actinidia’ berry. It contains 230 milligrams (mg) to 430mg of vitamin C per 100g, touting it as the "king of Vitamin C" of the fruits.

There are as many as 59 varieties of kiwifruit found in China and Liupanshui City.

The "Mini Red," a kind of kiwi characterized by a red star pattern in the radial core, is considered as the best kiwi in China. The nutritional value is extremely high and has a sweet taste.

The establishment of 6,000 acres of Langdai Kiwi Industrial Park gave jobs to more than 1,000 locals of the Liuzhi County.

Most members of the family work as farmers, while some are involved in the management and marketing of the park.

According to Wang Guoha, general director of the publicity department of the Liuzhi District of Liupanshui, they are planning to expand the exporting of kiwi into ASEAN countries by next year but it will require more training and education for quality production of the kiwi.

“For now, we are giving our local farmers various training in order to ready them in possible expansion of exporting the products in ASEAN countries and some parts of Asia,” Wang said.

Wang Shunyou, a villager of Miluo in Shuicheng, said he personally experienced how the development of the kiwifruit industry impacted him.

"I used to earn at most 20 thousand yuan a year when going out for work, but now I am growing kiwifruit at my hometown, which could bring me 150 thousand yuan a year," Wang said.

Aside from kiwifruit, the city is also rich in producing other fruit produces such as prickly pear, blueberry, dragon fruit and other tropical fruits.

Liupanshui is also known for producing ginkgo biloba, which is used to treat blood disorders and memory problems.

Liupanshui has successfully entered the markets of Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe.

The fruit wine series have passed FDA certification and are allowed to enter the US market.

Poverty alleviation

In the early 1980’s, poverty in Liupanshui was rampant, with more than 80 percent of its people choosing to flee and migrate to nearby provinces to look for work in order to have better lives.

Tao Zhengxue, chief executive of the Niangniangshan Plateau Wetland Eco-agriculture Tourism Development Co. Ltd. in Panzhou, said back then, there was no choice but to leave his hometown in order to survive.

“This is my hometown, and because this county is very poor, I need to leave this area for 30 years. Almost 80 percent of the young people went outside the village and others went to the cities. There is no fixed work and salary, we just plant corn and wheat rice and (there were) limited options to earn money,” Zhengyue said.

He, however, never lost hope. In 2012, after moving out of the region, he returned to Niangninagshan together with his plan to help alleviate poverty in his hometown using tourism.

“In 2012, I moved back to Niangniang, my hometown, to implement my poverty alleviation plans. Since this village is surrounded by mountains and water, the local government decided to make this village a new tourist destination,” he explained.

He implemented the “three changes” reform. The program is implemented by initially turning land resources into assets. Locals then become shareholders in various companies operating in the area, and capital equity for all residents in the poverty alleviation project is raised.

Zhengxue said the process was not easy. Some did not participate while others did not believe his plans for the village.

With all the challenges he faced, Zhengxue said he never saw the situation as a hindrance and instead pushed to encourage and educate his town.

The local government and the Communist Party of China poured a huge help in the success of the model plan.

“Throughout the years of development, I got the approval of the villagers, the local people who witnessed themselves the result of the changes, especially when they started earning more money of their own,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tao Zhengyou, 30, was one of the young residents of Niangniangshan Village who “joined the exodus” to escape poverty.

“When I was 16 years old, I decided to leave this village. I went to Guangdong Province to look for a job, to live. I am fortunate enough to find a job as a worker in a furniture company and earned 300 yuan per month,” Zhengyou said.

In 2013, he returned to Niangniagshan together with his family after hearing the changes in his hometown.

With all his savings and the money he earned in Guangdong, he managed to establish a small restaurant.

With the booming tourism in Liupanshui, his restaurant now earns more than 7,000 RMB per month.

“I am happy with my life now in the village. I was able to put up my own business and I have a happy family with my two kids,” Zhengyou said.

According to Zhengxue, the locals of Niangniangshan are enjoying an annual income of almost 15,000. More importantly, the Niangniangshan village has a zero-poverty record and has been a model village in China.

“There is no poverty anymore, (there is) zero poverty here but still development is the top priority. I believe that there will be no development, there will be no change,” he added.

Liupanshui is a home to 44 ethnic minorities group and the local government took this as an advantage in making the tourism colorful in the city.

In 2017, the city received more than 30 million tourists, both local and foreign, accounting to a total revenue of 20 billion RMB.

With this, the ‘cool city’ of Liupanshui aims to continue contributing to the prosperous and colorful province of Guizhou. (PNA)