Roads bring convenience
Gao Xiangxin is delighted because he can buy fresh vegetables and seafood every day at the Laiyuan county town market in Baoding, Hebei.
'It seems like everything changed overnight,' said the 57-year-old peasant. 'Things were different just two or three years ago. But now we can buy everyday products in small neighbourhood shops.'
Roads in Mr Gao's county proliferated fast in 2000-2001, after the opening of new iron mines, he said.
'The Laiyuan-Baoding expressway is now under construction, which means it will only take 1? hours to reach Baoding,' he said.
Baoding resident Shao Zhiying, a former employee of a logistics company, said vegetables were more expensive and difficult to get in winter and during the spring festival, but the situation was better than in Sichuan.
Ms Shao said colleagues from Leshan in Sichuan were always complaining about the inconvenience of buying daily needs.
'In fact it was because of this problem that they all decided to move and settle down here in Hebei,' she said.
'If there are special products and resources that need to be sold in other places, roads must be built very fast. The cost of building roads can easily be paid for by profits from future sales. If you want prosperity, first build a road, as the old Chinese saying goes.'
The 11th five-year programme allocated 100 billion yuan for building 3.1 million kilometres of roads in rural areas by 2010, essentially to meet the target of supplying all towns and villages with bitumen and cement roads. This year, 180,000km of new roads will be completed, especially in old revolutionary areas, minority areas, remote regions, poor counties and places with large grain harvests, Cnradio.com reported.
Mr Gao said a problem was that Xinlong mine owners had built simple dirt tracks in the mountains, which were constantly plagued with accidents when it rained or snowed. He said that during bad weather, the trucks were unable to run to and from the mines with their heavy loads of iron ore.