China's plans to improve its own countryside, namely the public works, environmental protection, and beautification projects under the Rural Revitalization Campaign have visibly improved China's rural landscape but put the villages under huge hidden debts.  A Xinhua Semi-monthly Talk article on May 13, warned that "star villages" and "model villages" had been visibly transformed but piled up excessive debts in the process. The article gave the example of a "national civilized village" in a mountainous region that built a culture square, a primary school, kindergarten, a day-care centre for the elderly, and a 3500-meter retaining wall that transformed the village but left it deep in debt. Another village owed 1.38 million yuan for a well and a road. The well consumed most of the money because approvals were onerous. The government subsidized 30,000 yuan of the road construction, but the project cost 200,000 yuan. According to Xinhua, finance officials in north-eastern Hunan Province did an investigation three years ago that found 90 percent of their county's 445 villages had debt, including 109 with debt exceeding 1 million yuan. A county in Shanxi Province estimated that their villages had debts totalling 3.86 billion yuan (over $500 million). Last year, an Economic Reference News reporter discovered many villages with debt problems in his investigations in western China. Many villages had debts of hundreds of thousands of yuan. Some villages have debts from the 1990s. New debts to finance rural revitalization projects have been piled on. While there are subsidies or grants for construction projects, they typically cover only a fraction of the cost. Village collectives short on cash often borrow money to finance their share of the cost. Village leaders sometimes use their personal connections to get bank loans. In other cases, villagers or business enterprises make contributions in exchange for IOUs. On May 26, the Municipal government of Yancheng in central Jiangsu Province reportedly budgeted 58.8 billion yuan to aid 120 villages with weak collective economies.  The strategy calls for municipal leaders to initiate projects that will increase village income by 100,000 yuan. It combines injections of funds from upper levels of government with attraction of investments and contributions from companies and individuals with links to the villages, launch of bigger money-making projects, and better management and accounting. According to the article, Yinle village leaders focused on land transfers, development of new types of farm businesses and agricultural structural adjustment; Runhe village built an agricultural market; and Daqiao village opened a string of standardized factories in the town industrial park.

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