Making sustained efforts to achieve victory in the battle against poverty
A blockbuster drama series conceptualised by China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) to commemorate the centenary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party, “Minning Town” is a reflection of the ideals that make China shine. Initiated by Fujian Radio and TV Bureau, jointly produced by Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Radio and TV Bureau, and presented by Daylight Entertainment Co., Ltd with strategic direction given by NRTA, this is truly an iconic production.
Backdrop: Modern life
International Version: 15 episodes
Premiered on: Zhejiang Satellite TV, Beijing TV, Dragon TV, Southeast TV, Ningxia TV, Tencent Video, Youku, iQIYI
Screenplay Supervisor: Gao Mantang
Screenwriters: Wang Sanmao, Wei Xi, Xiao Jue, Lei Zi, Qiu Yujie, Lie Na
Directors: Kong Sheng, Sun Molong
Producer: Hou Hongliang
Presented by: Daylight Entertainment Co., Ltd
Male Lead: Huang Xuan
Special Appearance : Zhang Jiayi, Yan Ni, Huang Jue, Yao Chen, Helen Tao, Wang Kai
Main Cast: Rayza, Huang Yao, Bai Yufan, You Yongzhi, Hu Ming, Jiang Guannan, Wang Shasha
Guest Appearance: Guo Jingfei, Zu Feng, Bai Yu, Lang Yueting
The story begins in the 1990s. People who have resettled from Xihaigu to Yuquan Ying are building their new homeland from scratch while Ma Defu (Huang Xun), one of the village leaders, is fretting over issues such as electricity and water supply. Despite all his hard work, he remains concerned about the future of the village.
Defu’s worries are laid to rest when Chen Jinshan (Guo Jingfei), Ling Yinong (Huang Jue) and other outstanding leaders and technical personnel arrive from Fujian to provide targeted assistance to Ningxia in line with new poverty alleviation policies implemented by the government. As they pull out all the stops for Minning Town, which is their pilot project in this collaboration initiative, Defu finally sees the light. Bai Maimiao (Huang Yao), Ma Debao (Bai Yufan), Li Shuihua (Rayza) and other youngsters in the village also regain their confidence as they channel their efforts back to the village and learn skills such as husbandry. In the process of development, there are continuous conflicts between tradition and modernity, materialism and inner well-being, as well as heritage and rootlessness. These changes and challenges keep bombarding the older generation like Ma Hanshui (Zhang Jiayi), Principal Bai (Zhu Feng) and Li Daiyou (You Yongzhi). Thankfully, these migrants from Xihaigu, who always remember their roots and origins, manage to entrench their sense of identity on this fertile land even as they embark on a journey towards a brighter future.
Minning Town is created upon the anti-poverty “Min-Ning Model” co-ordinated between the eastern and western territories. “Min-Ning Model” is a miracle in China’s an anti-poverty history, which emerges from the Socialism with Chinese characteristics system.
In the 1990s, Ningxia Xihaigu area was one of the poorest in China with a very harsh natural environment. A resettlement plan called “lift up village” was developed at the time. “Lift up village” literally meant “to lift an entire village up and put it down in a new location”. People of Xihaigu was relocated to Yuquan Ying under this new resettlement policy. Xihaigu was mountainous, with limited arable land and always suffered from drought. On the other hand, Yuquan Ying was a flat land with sandstorms from time to time. Its advantage was the irrigation system to lead water from the Yellow River to Yuquan Ying for living and farming. There were also state-owned farms which provided job opportunities to the immigrants to earn money to build their new homes. However, the development of Yuquan Ying was still a tough task as everything had to be built from scratch. Early immigrants had to live in burrows without electricity and running water. This demotivated the people to settle down to build their homes. This dilemma lasted until 1996 when CPC Central Committee and the State Council made a strategic decision to help poor provinces and cities in the west by the developed provinces and cities along the southeast coast. The Fujian committee for Ningxia poverty relief was led by the then deputy secretary of the Fujian Provincial Party Committee, Xi Jinping. Xi was head of delegation of the Fujian Party Commission to visit Ningxia. During the trip, the delegation made in-depth visits and interviews in order to lay down a thorough strategy – to open up an array of anti-poverty campaigns in depth facilitating both Min-Ning ends; to solicit entrepreneurs to invest in Ningxia by setting up manufacturing plants and organizing charitable projects; to enhance communications among government offices and talent development etc. The Min-Ning model could then be established and promoted, and Minning Village had become a reality, as well as a sample for other resettlement plans. The three step of “relocation, construction and wealth creation” was the route adopted many other villages in Ningxia leading them to prosperity.
Highlights of the Show
Huang Xuan gets into character, moved to tears by an impromptu performance by Rayza.
With a prominent theme reflecting hard power, “Minning Town” is an outstanding drama series rooted in realism.
Vividly portraying the multiple facets of everyday lives, this heartwarming drama fuses the battle against poverty and the battle of willpower into one.
With a stellar cast delivering a near-perfect performance, the characters in the script are brought to life.
The protagonist of the story, Ma Defu was a cadre from Yongquan Village who brought his fellow villagers out of that horrendous environment and led them to resettle in Jintan Village. Working diligently, he built a new homeland for everyone from scratch. Although he was very hands-on in every matter, from the electrical grid to water supply for irrigation needs, he had his work cut out for him and he could not see a clear direction for the future development of the village.
When all hope seemed lost amidst the barrage of problems and challenges, the state launched poverty alleviation policies involving collaboration between the eastern and western parts of China. As cadres and professional technical personnel arrived from Fujian, Defu finally saw the light. With pragmatism, resilience, honesty and kindness, he led his villagers towards a brighter future.
The daughter of Principal Bai, Maimiao lost her mother at a young age and due to some disagreements with her father, she became a little eccentric. However, when she headed the government’s call and ventured out to Fujian to work as a production operator in a factory, she transformed into a dynamic young lady.
Naturally intelligent, Maimiao learnt the ropes quickly in her job and that boosted her self-esteem. She even helped other women from her hometown solve various problems. She became hailed as a role model for her heroic attempt to salvage production materials when her factory caught fire.
After Maimiao came of age, she returned to Ningxia, married her childhood sweetheart, Debao, and continued to work hard for the development of her hometown.
Ma Defu’s younger brother, Ma Debao is the leader of the young chaps. Full of bravado, he tried taking his buddies away from the poor and desolate village to seek a living elsewhere during his teenage years.
That adventurous spirit remained in Debao after he grew up as he embarked on a lone journey to search for his missing cousin, Gawa. Unfortunately, in the process, he got tricked into working at an illegal coal mine.
After an accident broke out at the coal mine, Debao managed to survive and he returned to Jintan Village where he invested some capital and became the first button mushroom farmer under the influence of a professor from Fujian. Guided by his resourceful and entrepreneurial spirit, he even made prefabricated products and formed his own construction team.
As he and Maimiao came of age, the two finally tied the knot.
The father of Ma Defu and Ma Debao, Ma Hanshui was the acting Village Chief of Yongquan Village. Despite his loud voice and fiery temper, he was trusted by everyone. When Defu was having difficulties mobilising the villagers, he helped his son overcome the odds and relocated the folks to Jintan Village.
When Hanshui’s younger sister fell ill after her son, Gawa, went missing, he returned to Yongquan Village with her to help nurse her back to health. He reunited with his sons only when everyone in Yongquan Village resettled in the newly-established Minning Town.
A smart and tough lady from Yongquan Village, Li Shuihua used to have a budding romance with Ma Defu, but her father made arrangements for her to marry An Yongfu from the neighbouring village. After her husband became handicapped, she brought him and their young daughter to Jintan Village. It was a treacherous journey spanning more than 400 kilometres, but she persisted.
With the same diligent attitude, she settled down in Jintan Village, built her house, grew button mushrooms, set up a provision store and worked hard to create a better life for her family.
The father of Maimiao and a mentor to his former student, Ma Defu, Principal Bai was the principal and teacher at the only primary school in Yongquan Village. After relocating to Jintan Village, he was confronted with various challenges such as the lack of resources and shortage of teachers. In addition, he had to convince villagers not to neglect their children’s education while they were busy earning a living. Educating the next generation became an uphill battle for him.
A cadre seconded from Fujian province to Haiji county, Chen Jinshan has the characteristic dynamism and passion of people from Fujian, as well as a positive mindset and a sense of humour. When he first arrived, he almost became a laughingstock because of his accent. Fortunately, Defu stepped forward as his interpreter and saved the day.
Rolling up his sleeves to work on the land, Jinshan started planting his roots here. During his short tenure in Haiji, he arranged for the export of manpower and developed the courtyard economy, pulling out all the stops with down-to-earth sincerity to serve the people who call this place home.
A professor from Fujian and a world-renowned fungi expert, Professor Ling Yinong was deeply affected after visiting Jintan Village, where people were struggling to make ends meet. He decided to put his heart and soul into helping the locals develop a cottage industry through button mushroom farming so that they could break out of poverty. Besides imparting the skills and techniques to them, he even took on the responsibility of helping them sell the mushrooms. Having put himself in the villagers’ shoes and walked the path with them, he earned everyone’s trust and adoration. Ma Debao even became his capable disciple.
A loud and brass old man from Yongquan Village, Li Dayou is a tough nut to crack. He enjoys bragging, picking fights and stirring up disagreements. In the face of crises, he simply turns a blind eye. From inciting the resettlers to turn back to burning down the mushroom sheds, his behaviour has been very disruptive. However, beneath that nasty facade lies an ardent desire to break free from poverty and change his life for the better. He has a soft spot for his son, Shuiwang. So when Shuiwang told him that he would be marrying to Fujian and that it would be an uxorilocal marriage, his world almost came crumbling down.