Only five years earlier, under the “Building a New Socialist Countryside” programme, the village had received financial support for renovation. Mr Zhang explained how they had built new, wide roads (some of them asphalt), cleaned up the village and renovated the houses. But, he sighed at the time of the interview, everything would soon be demolished, and everyone would have to relocate. The relocation area, a grey residential complex with four-story buildings located next-door to the original village, is called a “new rural community”. The first floor, which has rolling shutters, can be used as a shop or garage.

Such new communities have sprung up everywhere in the Chinese countryside. They often consist of several merged villages, and all of them have a modern, urban-like appearance. Villagers can purchase subsidised apartments, but in return, they usually have to demolish their old houses. As part of the “New Socialist Countryside” rural development programme, the new communities were praised as a solution to improve the provision of social welfare to residents of villages that were scattered or emptied out by migration.