Economic Observation of a Small City with Four Lines in the Mainland

Although Mr. Zhang is a bit bookish, he is a frank person. He told me that although many people on the Internet now call teachers’ income low, in fact his real income is relatively high in the local area, because in addition to the formal teaching and administrative staff resources, he also conducts extracurricular tutoring classes. ” According to relevant regulations, in-service teachers are not allowed to engage in such classes outside school, but in fact many parents of students are begging us to engage in such classes, not even without them. It’s not a big deal to do it when you do it. Everyone in the school knows this kind of thing and everyone knows it without saying anything. If I really don’t allow it at all, what else can I do if I quit my job as a teacher? We can only say that we are barely enough to live on the staff. “

At the homecoming meeting, both those who returned home and those who worked in the local area expressed great understanding of this. A classmate said: ” Anqing’s economy is in recession, and it has been in recession for many years. No matter whether the external environment is good or bad, the economy here is not improving. Under such circumstances, almost every family hopes that their children will study hard, get a job and never come back. So what is just needed? What we need here is not a house, but education! In many families, the old and the young live frugally and do not go to the hospital when they are ill. The money still has to be spent on children’s education. The children can’t get out of the exam, and those generations are wilting! ”

Listening to these words, I deeply felt deeply. The Chinese people, whether they live in first-tier cities or in small counties along the 18th line, regard education as a goal to change the fate of their families. If they leap over this goal, their future life will be different. Those who cannot jump over it will repeat the path of their parents’ life, which in their parents’ eyes is a life of failure.

In recent years, there have been a lot of discussions about the solidification of social strata, and there have been a lot of criticisms about exam-oriented education, all of which are reasonable. However, in fact, exam-oriented education is still the main way, even the only way, for the vast majority of Chinese families to change their fate. People in first-tier cities often criticize their ideas, thinking that their ideas are old and trite, and inadvertently reveal a condescending sense of superiority. However, in the Internet era, everyone has the same information. Even in third – and fourth-tier cities and even in remote counties, their cognitive gap to the world is not as wide as the Chinese elite imagined, but they really have no other way.

However, this social reality has also led to a huge talent gap in my hometown, because anyone with a little ability will do everything possible to go out and almost no one is willing to stay and develop in my hometown. This kind of situation like teacher Zhang is an extremely rare special case, because his family situation is quite special. However, even if his educational background and ability are quite outstanding in the locality, he has been nothing more than a head teacher for decades, and his hometown has not created a good development space for him.

Another student who works in a local government department is also deeply touched. According to him, Anqing has the highest number of college entrance examination applicants in the province every year, and less than 20% of them return home after graduation. A principal of No.1 Middle School in Anqing once said: ” No.1 Middle School sends out talents from Anqing every year, one train and one train!” This is a painful experience for the local government. The money for basic education comes from local families and local governments, but the income generated has nothing to do with the hometown.

02

Why can’t we keep talents here? This problem has much to do with the local industry.

Anqing is a city along the Yangtze River, where water transportation has been developed since ancient times. Zeng Guofan set up an armory in Anqing in the late Qing Dynasty. The first motor ship in China, ” Huang Gu,” was born here. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the manufacturing industry is still the main industry here. The categories include military industry, petrochemical industry, daily chemical industry, construction machinery, textile and clothing, etc.

More than a decade ago, in the industrial economy of the five cities along the Yangtze River in Anhui, people were most impressed by Maanshan Steel, Wuhu Conch Cement, Tongling Nonferrous and Anqing Petrochemical. Now Masteel, Conch Cement and Tongling Nonferrous are all well-known A – share listed companies.

As far as I can remember, the workers in Anqing Petrochemical Company are all the best-paid members of the local working group. However, according to the old classmates, the situation is still the same, which is very problematic. For example, Wuhu now has not only conch cement, but also Chery automobile, three squirrels and other new batch of well-known enterprises, while Anqing is still the same.

In terms of automobile manufacturing, Anqing was actually many years earlier than Wuhu. Before Chery was born in 1991, Anqing Automobile Factory began mass production of ” Aandahl” cars. Later, Aandahl became the first commercial car brand in China and was named ” China Famous Brand Products”, and even a number of products were listed in the national automobile product catalog. However, Aandahl’s prosperity was only a meteoric moment. In June 2003, Anqing Auto Factory went bankrupt.

This is the so-called ” getting up early and catching up late”.

More than ten years later, petrochemical industry is still the most important pillar industry in Anqing. No new industries have emerged, resulting in few industrial categories and a single industrial structure. Like textile and clothing, machinery and equipment, these two pieces are almost second only to petrochemical industry, but there is a huge gap in body mass and the added value of industry is very low.

What is more troublesome is that the petrochemical, textile and machinery industries, in the eyes of contemporary young people, are the old and antiquated industries of the last century, which are far less sexy than the new economy and new formats such as the Internet and big data. The old schoolmate of the government department said wryly: ” Xi’ an took the lead in the” war of robbing people ” last year. at that time, some people in our local government also suggested robbing a wave of people to come back, but the result was not successful. But looking back now, it is also right not to engage in it. Xi ‘an worked so hard as if it didn’t get many people, and it is even more impossible for us to engage in it. ”

If the education crisis only highlights the crisis of high-end talents in the mainland economy, then the industrial crisis is even more serious. Because these old industrial systems are either built on the basis of local natural resources or on the basis of local cheap labor, and the current social situation will make the living space of these old industrial systems smaller and smaller.

On the one hand, the natural resources of many inland cities are far less than before, such as some oil field cities and coal mine cities, and the ups and downs are very obvious. On the other hand, with the increasing pressure of environmental protection, those old manufacturing industries are becoming more and more difficult to survive.

The shortage of young people is even more difficult for labor-intensive enterprises. Young people who have passed the examination will not return to their hometown. Young people who have not passed the examination also choose to work in first-tier cities. The polarization of the population in the villages is especially obvious. Either the elderly or the children are unable to provide labor for these industries.

Recently, there have been more and more discussions about China’s aging population, but in fact the aging problem in first-tier cities is not obvious. For example, I work in Shenzhen and the proportion of young people I see everyday is quite high. But that’s because young people from all over the country are concentrated in cities like Shenzhen, and in mainland cities that we usually don’t pay much attention to, the aging problem is already quite serious.

When I went shopping with my family during the Spring Festival, my grandmother asked me, Spring Festival is the time when there are the most young people in the street every year. However, even during the Spring Festival, there seem to be fewer and fewer young people returning home. Is it because the price of tickets for returning home has increased? I wanted to say, ” Yes.”

In fact, the increase in ticket prices is a very small factor for returning home. The real reason is that more and more people go out, and almost all of them never turn back. When everyone has a certain foundation outside, they will take their parents to live there, and there will be no need to return home for the Spring Festival. However, these reasons are not good for grandma to say directly.

With the gradual death of the elderly in my hometown, the fetters of this hometown will only become smaller and smaller. I estimate that in another 20 years, the tide of spring transportation returning home may have disappeared.

03

Anqing is a famous historical and cultural city with a deep cultural background. It has always attached importance to education and its culture is very prosperous. When I was a child, I used to go to bookstores with my classmates. because I had no money to buy, I squatted in the corner and read idle books. a few people looked at it all day long. the bookstore was also very tolerant and did not drive us away. but now the bookstores basically sold teaching materials. the ” idle books” were almost extinct. I went in and looked at them, and soon came out.

An old schoolmate once said when he was studying that he would like to open a bookstore in the future, so he could live a life. he would sit in it and read every day. he should have a good time. but he didn’t really open a bookstore after all. after all, books are becoming more and more difficult to sell, and the rent is becoming more and more expensive.

He is now engaged in the real estate industry in Shanghai and has done a good job. At the reunion, he said wryly: ” After 20 years of wandering abroad, all his books have been exhausted, leaving only a stench of copper.” He is also a little sad to recall the past when he was squatting in a corner of a bookstore together. After coming out for so many years, it seems that some things have indeed been lost, and it seems that they will never be found again.

I don’t know whether the real estate industry in my hometown is prosperous or depressed. If I say it is depressed, I walk around and see that there are still many projects under construction. However, if you want to say that it is prosperous, it seems that it is not at all. Many people on the roadside are holding signboards and selling buildings while shivering in the cold wind. It does not look like it is selling well.

The urban landscape of my hometown has changed greatly. When I was a child, I lived in a suburb. Now it has become a new district. The former vegetable fields, lakes and rivers have all turned into roads and tall buildings.

The construction and renovation of large cities have changed the fate of many people. For example, many former peasant households have not cultivated land for many years now, and they have no land to plant anyway. Now they mainly operate chess and card rooms and are busy attracting people from nearby to play mahjong every day.

04

I checked the data later, only to find out how severe the economic situation in the former capital city of Anhui is now.

The five counties of Huaining, Wangjiang, Taihu, Yuexi and Susong, and the two cities of Tongcheng and Qianshan currently under Anqing’s jurisdiction, but in the 2017 county economic ranking list of Anhui province, none of the five counties and two county-level cities of Anqing has entered the ” first square” of county economy in the whole province.

Although I have been away from my hometown for many years, I still hope my hometown can have better development, but the fact is that it was no longer the leading city in the province many years ago. What saddens me even more is that although its economy is not good, it is found in cities in the province that are worse than it. It is conceivable that if it is compared in the nationwide cities, it is probably of medium level, and the list of cities that are worse than it will be very long and long.

Having been in first-tier cities for a long time, one often has the illusion that many parts of China are doing well in economy, but in fact there are two completely different types of cities in North, Upper, Wider and Lower China. The gap between the two poles is like the Milky Way. Imbalance in regional development is a typical problem in China at present, and it is a seemingly unsolvable problem. Our motherland’s economy is still far from common prosperity.