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Little Hill Village
A Place to Turn Chinese into a Plate of Sands

10 January

In a relatively rich land of Fengyang, in Anhui Province, there were 18 healthy men in their prime living in a village called Little Hill (小岗村). The men on the Hill had a high aspiration for fairness, believing none of their fellow villagers should do less than they did and none of their co-workers must take more pay than they could. Thus they were long fed up with being asked to work in commune farmlands, since which required them to keep a vigilant eye in case others transferred one less pile of bullshit to the farm or lifted one less kilo of crops to warehouse than they might do. It was a delicate calculation that made them feel tired and drained.

Thus in a dark night a secret meeting was made among these 18 warriors championing for ultimate fairness, and upon the meeting an unanimous deal was sealed by 18 red fingerprints on a paper. It was a deal to divide the land among households, so as to minimize the risk of accidentally working for others, and gain freedom of not to work at all if they so wished. After all, why did it matter whether their land grew crops or weeds? They could always tell the government that they harvested nothing, and government would always have to send forth the relief food. They played such tricks for decades, and they knew it worked. By all means, the men on the Hill were humble guys who preferred to bend their bodies low to beg for food along streets than supporting themselves and their families by their own hands which they considered as being condescending towards their fellow villagers who hate to show off their abilities.

The 18 humble men didn't realise what a heroic deed they had accomplished for China. In the next thirty years, they are elevated to a dazzlingly heights as economic reform pioneers and treated as such, which means they have their houses built, roads repaired, schools established and phone lines installed, all for free. One of them has even been invited to join the government, and all eighteen were immortalized in a statue for their fans to admire and adore their lazy bones.

But they are still relatively poor comparing to neighbouring villages, and worst of all, their good fortune of living over handouts is going to run out following the untimely death of village chief Mr Shen on November 6, 2009. Mr Shen was initially sent to serve the work-loath reform pioneers by government financial department (see the significance in the appointment?), and died in exhaustion (see what means to be a servant? Public or private.).

Yep, many people in Chinese government do have seen what means to be a public servant from Mr Shen's death and praised him as such. Unfortunately, many people in Chinese community only see the public revenue being wrongly spent on a group of lazy bugs through foolish government officials.

And questions begin to be asked, in terms who and why promoted these men as heroes in the first place. Mind, one of the heroes once proudly declared that being selfish is his fundamental principle (人不为己,天诛地灭). Is this going to be the collective psyche of China?

The following are some online comments from and


It’s like a useless head of a household, when seeing the whole family staving, the only solution he could think of is to divide the household and leave everyone to their fate.




It is quite offensive that some people would try to make Little Hill Villagers as the representatives of Chinese peasants. Are we just like these leeches?



Little Hill’s Spirit: Little men’s mean heart.

小岗精神 - 拔一毛利天下,不为也。


We peasants do not understand deep theory of capitalism or socialism, we only know when the land is distributed to household, we are motivated, and this is Little Hill’s contribution to the reform.



30村民, I think your head must be squashed by the door so you can’t think straight. I’m the son of peasants and now a public servant. However, my parents are still living in village. Let me tell you what happened since the land is divided:

No financial input has been made for water conservation or irrigation projects and the peasants returned to the old way of solely relying on the weather for survival. My family got about 1 hectare of land, and now all the trenches are fully planted with crops by the peasants owning neighbouring farmlands. During a deluge last year, the overflow wasn’t able to be drained off quickly through trenches which ruined all cotton crops so we harvested nothing.

Basic social security previously implemented through the commune system are no longer there. My parents are in their 60s and still have to tender farmland and raise livestock to support themselves. Some of our neighbours are very ill but cannot afford to go to hospital – they’ll have to stick it out or die.

The rural environment is so polluted and water in the rivers can no longer be used, but no one goes to clean up the thick sludge and overgrown weeds in the waterways.

The neighbourhood relations become so tense. The villagers would fight over any miner issues related with land and crops. Within some families siblings turn on each other for being unable to provide support to their aging parents.

No entertainment venues available in the villages nowadays, except brothels. The old cinemas all become trading centres.

The village that I grew up in no longer exists. China’s rural area is dying.



Our county used to be in the top hundred regarding the agriculture modernisation. After the land divided, the imported machines lay to waste and rusted away, and we are now among the poorest.



The 18 men in Little Hill Village are just selfish folks, but not criminals. The sinister people are the ones who prompted such mean spirit.



There will always be lazy bones in the community, it is nothing to be surprised. What is odd is that these lazy bones would become heroes of nation.



According to Little Hill Villagers, Chinese can only work separately. How ridiculous it is! Even capitalism requires a collective labour input. How many modern factories or companies are solely run by a single family? Is it right for the employees not to do their job probably because it’s not their business? Even bees and ants are contributing to their groups through their work, as a human being, should we show some willingness to add our value to the community and the nation that we belong to? I just don’t get what kind of mentality some people in the leadership tried to promote and for what purpose? Are they wishing to see Chinese to be like a bunch of send again so China can be broken up easily by the foreign powers?


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A nation's collective character shapes the shared destiny of her people.


The portrait of 18 men of Little Hill Village who preferred to be divided to beg than united to work.

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