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On the Road in China: Struggle at Desert's Edge

Wang Bin, his mother and niece outside their home on Route 312 in central China.
Rob Gifford, NPR /
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Wang Bin, his mother and niece outside their home on Route 312 in central China.

A small town on the edge of the Gobi Desert symbolizes the problems faced by rural China. The mother of a 21-year-old unemployed man wishes he would marry, but it's impossible to find a wife because China's one-child policy results in a shortage of women.

Farther down Route 312, an arid village suffers a water shortage caused when corrupt local officials seized control of the supply. Asked what he can do about it, a resident is resigned to answer: "endure."

In the fourth of seven reports on his 3,000-mile journey across China, NPR's Rob Gifford tells stories of hard life in China's countryside.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.