This is China, too

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The author’s grandfather, Li Kezheng.

Fifty miles from the city of Chongqing in southwest China is a small village called Jinquan.

My grandfather, Li Kezheng (李科正), lived there his entire life.

He became a farmer at the age of 13, harvesting the main crop of the village — Sichuan pepper, a commonly used spice in Chinese cuisine.

Every year in late May and early June he trimmed peppers from the spiky bushes.

My grandfather would get up at dawn to start working in the fields before it got too hot.

He wore thick gloves to protect himself from thorns, but his hands were still full of scars.

His job was to cut down branches with peppers, and bring them home to my grandmother, Wu Weishu (吴维书). She would pick the peppers off and set them out to dry.

Eventually they would make it to the market, along with harvests from other farmers nearby.

I shot this video in June 2016 to capture what life is like on the farm.

This is China, too

When people talk about China, they mostly talk about the big cities. They talk about how modern and flourishing these crowded metropolises are. They rarely talk about the countryside like my hometown, or farmers like my grandparents. CGTN's Moruomi Li produced.

Rural life in China is not as idyllic as people in the cities imagine.

My grandparents used a wood-fired stove and got their drinking water from the well.

They didn’t have modern utilities that city folk are accustomed to such as an air conditioner, water heater, or a flushing toilet.

This part of the countryside, like many rural places in China, is faced with youth flight.

Young people are leaving in droves to seek bigger paychecks in cities, leaving the elderly behind.

When people talk about China, they mostly talk about the big cities. They talk about how modern and flourishing these crowded metropolises are.

They rarely talk about the countryside like my hometown, or farmers like my grandparents.

But this is also China, and it’s essential to our culture and identity.

My grandfather was just one of 500 million peasants in China who devoted his life to the farm.

He died in January, and is now buried on the very land that he tilled and loved so dearly.

Moruomi Li is a Digital Media intern at CGTN America.