How would you like to receive a villa, cars, health care, education, and other services virtually for free? That’s all part of the deal if you happen to be one of the lucky citizens of Huaxi Village, China.
Huaxi Village (華西村, or 华西村 in simplified Chinese) of Jiangyin City is located near the east coast of China and a slightly northwest of Shanghai. It’s famous for supposedly being the richest agricultural village in all of China, though it wasn’t always that way. All of the approximately 2,000 registered citizens in the village are said to have an annual income of at least 100,000 euros (US$131,830), and are able to enjoy the full perks of living in such a wealthy area. Even Japanese citizens have been taking note of some of the jaw-dropping features of this village–wait till you see the pictures for yourself!
Huaxi Village is today touted as a model of a successful socialist village. Founded in 1961, it began as a poor agricultural village, but gradually transformed into an economic powerhouse thanks to the efforts of the late Wu Renbao, the former secretary of the village’s Communist Party Committee. He oversaw the development of a plan to industrialize the town and create a multi-sector industry company, while also enacting a system of collective farming. Wu eventually put the company on the stock exchange in the late 1990s, and the villagers were made into company stockholders.
▼Wu Renbao, who served as secretary of the Communist Party Committee in Huaxi Village. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 85.
▼Villagers working in the 1970s
The village’s steel, silk, and travel industries in particular have flourished and are what mainly contributed to its astounding 58 billion yuan profit ($9.6 billion) in 2012. Part of the village’s profit gets divided among its stock-holding residents. According to Japanese news-condensing website Naver Matome, a whopping 80% of their gross annual income is deducted for taxes, but in return all registered citizens are provided with a villa, new cars (typically imported luxury models from Volkswagen or Citroën), free health care, free access to education, free use of the city’s private helicopter for sightseeing, free use of facilities and dining expenses in the city’s luxury hotel, and much more! Women over the age of 50 and men over 55 also receive a monthly pension along with supplementary rice and vegetables.
You may have noticed that we keep stressing the term ‘registered citizens’ here. These are the people who are the approximately 2,000 descendants of the village’s original residents during Wu Renbao’s decades of reform and are the only ones who are allowed to own company stock certificates. In addition to these super-privileged citizens, the area also has approximately 20,300 migrant workers and sees even larger number of villagers coming in from neighboring towns.
Let’s now start taking a look at some of the opulence that can be found in Huaxi Village. Approximately 5,000 domestic and international sightseers visit Huaxi each day, and while they must pay an entrance fee to get into the village itself, once inside, all attractions on the premises are free to them for viewing.
Upon entering the village, you’ll be greeted by some of the following sights:
▼”No. 1 Village Under the Sky”
▼Make a mental note of that tall building–we’ll touch on it later.
▼Some of the approximately 70 factories in the village
▼What looks like a multi-storied pagoda is actually a shopping center.
▼Rows upon rows of identical, luxurious villas.
▼It’s not unusual for one house to have over 10 rooms.
▼Let’s take a peek inside some of the villas:
We think we could get used to living in a place like that…and it wouldn’t even take a lot of convincing!
Now, do you remember that tall building from one of the first pictures? It’s actually another one of Huaxi Village’s claims to fame–the Longxi International Hotel, completed in 2011.
The hotel is 74-story-high skyscraper, measuring in at 328 meters (1,076 feet) tall. Compare that to the tallest building in Japan–Osaka’s Abeno Harukas Skyscraper clocks in at ‘only’ 300 meters (984 feet) tall. Apparently, about 200 villagers each contributed vast amounts of money to cover the hotel’s building expenses so that the project didn’t incur any debt (its total costs: over $452 million).
The hotel boasts a revolving restaurant, rooftop pool, shopping mall, movie theater, and spa. If you’re not a registered citizen of the village, ‘economical’ rooms will cost you about $260 per night, while the most expensive ones will set you back a whopping $11,550! If you’d like to see the interiors of those rooms, please click here.
▼The Longxi International Hotel
▼The hotel’s walls are sure to remind you of the staggering wealth of the place.
▼The character for ‘gold/money’ written in a number of styles also seems fitting as decoration.
Maybe it’s a nod to its agricultural past, but the village seems to enjoy displaying sculptures of bulls made from various expensive materials within the hotel:
▼The village’s $34.6 million 50th anniversary gift to itself in 2011: A bull made from one ton of gold.
▼Here’s one made from one ton of silver.
▼One ton of copper…
▼One ton of iron…
▼And one ton of tin!
If you ever find yourself bored with all the amenities that the hotel has to offer (though we’re not entirely sure that’s possible…), why not check out some of the village’s other fun attractions? There are even replicas of…
▼The Great Wall of China
▼…and Tiananmen Square.
▼Oh, and remember that village helicopter? Registered residents can use it for free, but visitors must pay a fee.
After seeing pictures like these, it’s awfully hard to remember that this place is still technically classified as a ‘village.’ Excuse us while we go and try to wrap our minds around that…