That is its claim (without the ‘little’). Located in Jiangyin, in Jiangsu Province, just a hop, skip and jump from where I’m living, Huaxi was transformed from a dirt-poor farming village in the 1960’s to a model-for-industry, corporation-city worth billions (usd), and listed on the Shenzen stock exchange.
This past Thursday, October 1, began National Holidays in China. Officially, many take off for one week. But industries like apparel making can only afford two days of celebration. Luckily, the weather was good so a small group of us (ex-pats) took a leisurely bicycle trip to Huaxi.
Home of the 15th tallest building in the world and 7th tallest in China, Huaxi is acknowledged by many as a model socialist village. The residents are expected to know and understand the value of hard work and contribute to the greater good. There are roughly 2,000 registered residents, each corporation shareholders.
Huaxi — the good
All registered residents receive dividends which normally exceed their job earnings. Every family is given rights to a mini-villa, every adult allotted enough for a luxury car, and all are entitled to free health care, education, and cooking oil. They have average household incomes of better than 100,000 euros and maintain at least 250,000 euros in their bank accounts.
Huaxi — the bad
Most residents are required to work seven days a week. There are no bars, clubs, or internet cafes for social mingling as residents are expected not to have time for such leisure. Corporation share prices could dive, reducing primary dividend income.
Huaxi — the ugly
Residents who decide to leave or move elsewhere loose everything. It’s understood that residents are encouraged not to talk with foreigners or the press.
To help power Huaxi’s industrial engine, 10’s of thousands of migrant workers live in surrounding dormitory housing and enjoy none of the local resident benefits.
As far as the bicycle trip, what better way to spend an otherwise normal workday afternoon than peddling with a few coworkers, sharing an excuse to roam new roads, knowing we circled through China’s richest little village.