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"Migration has been a vital social change throughout all ages. In the ancient societies, migrations usually took place as a result of natural disasters, wars, or the need to develop the border regions.
We would put the dynasties of Qin and Han aside for the time being and start from the Northern and Southern Dynasties. During the social upheaval that lasted for well over a century, more than a million people moved down south, which was 1/7 of the number originally present in the North. The migration has set the foundation for shifting the economic and population center from northern to southern China.
Then came the An-Shi Rebellion 1 . As pointed out in the records, 'People of all social status and occupations were escaping to the south of Yangtze River, the scale of which has exceeded that of the Disaster of Yongjia 2 .' The southward migration lasted all the way to the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. As a result, the population in the south of China was for the first time an equal to that of the north.
The third one took place at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, when the Central Plains were uncultivated lands and spa.r.s.ely populated. To improve the situation and, on top of that, to meet the need for wider domains and garrisoning the border regions, the authorities of Ming Dynasty organized a large-scale migration. The government installed nine garrisons along the Great Wall, covering an area marked by Liaozuo on the east, Xuanfu and Datong on the north, Longxi on the west, and Yunnan and Sichuan on the south, reaching as far as Jiaozhi 3 . After that, the population on either side of Yangtze River finally reached an equilibrium.
The fourth time was the migration out of Shanhai Pa.s.s. Lower reaches of the Yellow River were flooded seasonally for years and tens of thousands of farmers were escaping to the northeastern part of the country; the migration went on for over a century. Shortly before the modern state was founded, the population of the Northeast reached 60,000,000. That migration was the largest in scale that took place in the history of the country."
Meetings were held daily without fail in Urumqi these days.
Today was no exception. A special lecture was being held at the moment with dozens of attendants, all of which were senior officials of major provinces. The old man with gla.s.ses was among them.
On the podium was a professor with grizzled hair, talking in front of a ma.s.sive screen.
"After the modern state was established, the influence of natural conditions and war on migration was decreasing, while the impact of policy and economic factors grew more potent, which is something you are all familiar with and I'm not going to delve into unnecessary details here. The trend of migration is from rural to urban areas, from inland to coastal cities and industrial and mining regions, and following the western development strategy.
The reason I've talked about all these is to show that to some extent, migration is the determining factor of political, economical, natural environmental changes. It was because of all those migrations that developed urban agglomerations, economic centers, and backward areas, etc. are what they are nowadays…"
The professor had been talking for a while. He paused to have a sip of water and went on in a hoa.r.s.e voice.
"Right now, it seems we are back to where we used to be—a time when migration was determined by natural disasters. Take the province of Xichui as an example. Of its total population of 24,670,000, Huo Zhou takes up about 3%. It might not sound much, but let's have a look at the break-down. Among those, 370,000 are male and 350,000 are female. 190,000 are under 18 years old, 170,000 are between 18 and 35, 240,000 are between 35 and 60, and the rest are 60 years old and above.
Of those, less then 10% have an annual disposable income over 100,000 yuan 4 .
The minors and the aged are a rather heavy burden, for they belong to a disadvantaged group that cannot work, generates no value, and needs the protection of welfare resources. Whereas those of the middle-age group—which takes up the largest proportion—are enjoying a stable life, career, and state of mind. Personally, I think many of these people will have a hard time to start anew in new surroundings after being forced to leave their hometown. And it is also among this group that a potential safety hazard lies.
That is to say, only as few as 170,000 young people are able to generate economic value.
When these people are moved away, they will shake the established system of the new city in areas such as education, employment, pension, health service, housing, etc., and even become a burden for the new city.
What we have to consider now is how to distribute these 700,000 people so that the equilibrium will not be disturbed.
Qingning Province has a population of 6 million and Tanggute 4 million. Both Longxi and Mobei have populations of over 20 million. The former two provinces have much land and few people, yet job opportunities are equally few with far-from-perfect social security systems. And don't forget, both provinces have primitive landforms. Not only is the environment of plateaus and glaciers abominable, there are also the Kunlun Mountains in the region!"
The mentioning of the mountain made everyone jolt.
The current pattern was that mountains and rivers were p.r.o.ne to abnormalities. A provincial scenery such as Phoenix Mountain was able to turn into a node, so no one could predict how Kunlun, the "ancestor of all mountains", would turn out to be.
"The terrain in Longxi and Mobei is not as steep, but there are still the Qilian Mountains and Yin Mountains we need pay attention to. Both provinces lack major industry, therefore I think their ability to handle the sudden inflow of a large population is limited.
That is why we have determined that Qingning and Tanggute will not be taken into consideration. A small amount could be moved into Longxi and Mobei, but the majority has to be migrated into the inland of the Central Plains."
A hush fell across the room. As clearly as they knew the extent and impact of the issue, the graveness seemed to have manifolded at the words of a specialist.
But it did not end there. The old professor was also very excited as he went on, "I have made a rough estimation: if Huo Zhou were to become a deadland, how much are we going to lose?
First of all, there are 20.361 billion tons of coal, 270 million tons of iron, 220,000 tons of pota.s.sium nitrate, and 1329 kg of gold. Furthermore, we will also lose 180 million tons of nitratine, 76 million tons of magnesite, 20.4 million tons of mirabilite… as well as 100,000 mu of farmland, 350,000 mu of cotton, 500,000 mu of grapes, and an annual loss of 50,000 tons of meat and 30,000 tons of milk products…"
He named seventeen types of mineral resources and twelve types of farm produce in a row before going on to say, "And there is more! If this so-called fire spiritual essence spreads to the region of Shaer Lake, Ayding Lake, and Qiketai, where a large area of shallow coalfield is found, it will not be a problem of destruction. Should the coalfields be set on fire, I, I cannot imagine what a scene that would be."
In the still of the conference room, his voice suddenly sounded dry as his tone turned grave. Slowly, he said, "Starting from early this year, I have been working on a study ent.i.tled 'New Environmental Change and New Social Relations'. Take Tianzhu Mountain as an example. Tianmen Town used to have a population of 80,000 and the residents mainly lived off the scenic area. However, after the mountain was closed, there was a sharp fall of the population. There are only 50,000 inhabitants left now, of which very few are young people.
They used to provide service for millions of tourists, but the number has dropped to a mere thousand. From a small town with a comprehensive service industry, the town of Tianmen had shrunk to a small village that can barely make ends meet…"
The venerable and respected old professor had had multiple audiences with the top officials and was not afraid to speak his mind. He was very direct. "I will hereby take this chance to appeal to the government. Please take the subject seriously, for this is without doubt an emerging discipline worth developing and promoting. We are in urgent need for talented people.
Finally, I'd like to offer a personal advice.
The government must establish a reasonable and effective rescue and migration mechanism that can be carried out in long term. We must be prepared for a persistent large-scale migration, whose general direction should be converging towards urban agglomerations and flat-land regions. Avoid regions with special landforms. The loss of population in northwest and southwest border regions, south-central mountain areas, and northern mountain areas could be especially severe!"
With that, the old professor swept his eyes over the audience, gathered his files, and was ready to walk off the stage.
The gla.s.s-wearing official rose to his feet immediately. Taking the old professor by his hands, the official showed the old man to his seat himself. After that, he didn't walk up to the podium, but turned around to face the audience.
"Professor Li has offered some very constructive suggestions and we will look into them together. I would like to make another point: these issues at hand are all maneuverable. Once they move beyond our capability, we will need people such as cultivators to handle those ones—and a lot of cultivators. We will be living beyond our means.
Therefore, after going back, apart from the migration work, you will also need to pay close attention to this aspect. Support your local temples and have them hold more activities to take in pupils. Those in Tianzhu Mountain is our first batch. We now need to start training the second, the third, and the many yet to come!
Ok, that's all for the meeting today!"TL/N: a devastating rebellion began in the year 755 against the Tang dynasty of China, which lasted for more than 7 years. TL/N: referrence to an event in Jin Dynasty, which marked the first southward migration of the regime and civilization in China TL/N: roughly modern-day Vietnam TL/N: roughly 15,000 USD