Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
continuing liberalization of China's agro-economy induces most farmers to participate in
the market in order to provide a decent standard of living for their families.
However, market-driven agriculture under the Household Responsibility System creates
as the state provides less security and fewer services than it had during the socialist peri-
od. High-value commodity crops, such as walnuts, are not a viable strategy for displaced
households. Such households tend to make up for this deficiency by relying on government
compensation and by participating in a wide array of wage labor and entrepreneurial activ-
ities. They also depend on the support and reciprocity of their extended families and their
In the summer of 2009, while conducting research in Fengqing County, our survey group
been completed by that point, and the reservoir was partially filled. Many villages were
already under water, their inhabitants living in the migrant village in the township cen-
ter. The rain that day was ferocious, coming in sideways sheets of water, and debris from
numerous small landslides blocked the road in some places. We parked our van on the
shoulder of the road and began a long hike down a winding, muddy path to the village; the
footing was treacherous and slow going, and our group was passed several times by local
villagers wearing old-fashioned palm-fiber capes as rain slickers. 14
After half an hour of hiking, our guide, a local Yi man, received a call on his mobile
phone, and the tone of his voice quickly turned dark. The call was from the village mayor,
who was on his way down the trail to retrieve us, accompanied by another village official
and a representative from Huaneng Corporation. After a short wait under the cover of trees,
the men met us on the trail, informing us that we couldn't proceed to the village because
it was “unsafe.” Accustomed to dealing with bureaucratic obstruction disguised as concern
er on the mountain and away from the reservoir catchment area. The officials, however,
were adamant that we had to turn around.
Disappointed and soggy, we returned to the main road, where the vice county head,
wearing a police rain slicker and flanked by two Public Security Bureau officials, met us.
After ensuring that our documentation was in order, he told us about the tragic events of
the previous night and our unfortunate timing that had coincided with them. On July 20
at 3:00 a.m., a landslide had occurred in a hamlet adjacent to the river. At least 900 cubic
meters of mountainside had sloughed off into the river, which was already swollen as the
reservoir filled and the monsoon rains poured down, causing a surge that wiped out several
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