The strategy of constructing urban agglomerations had long been proposed in the country and was an ongoing project this entire time. Five major ones were planned first (Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, Bohai Rim, middle reaches of Yangtze River, and Chongqing Region), which was then expanded to nineteen.
The current measures were only a more complete, specific, and targeted version of the initial plan. Apart from regions with much land and few people such as Qingning and Tanggute, most of the rest provinces were included.
It was known as urban clusters, in which small, medium, and large cities would complement one another in their functions, share resources and construction plans, promote urban-rural interaction and regional integration… we wouldn't go into details on that.
Regarding the document itself, centralized construction naturally meant potential profits. However, the top guns would not be so short-sighted, the middle-level personnel dared not get their shoes wet, and only the ignorant ones hustling about trying to make money or blinded by their greed would see this as an opportunity.
Among all the possible profits, where would one find the easiest money?
Real estate, of course!
Henan Province, "Phoenix Mountain franchise", Xinxiang "branch".
This particular Phoenix Mountain was 10 km from the city center, a few hundred meters tall and rather small. The mountain was once a mine, which had left the mountain barren and wasted. It was not until the afforestation in the recent years that trees were planted back and the mountain was green again.
Right now, in a fenced-out construction site between the mountain and the downtown area, a few excavators were parked here and there. A reception center stood outside the construction site, which now had its front gate tightly shut; a few pretty female employees were shaking behind a desk.
Outside, Cui Bo was one of the hundreds of protesters who were waving wads of documents and yelling at the top of their lungs.
"Show your face, developer!"
"Give my money back!"
"Give my money back!"
Those at the back kept pushing forward and those at the front grew all the more agitated, banging the glass doors with their hands.
It was a tycoon developer's doing. He bought this piece of land after the announcement and somehow got himself an approval from the authorities. There was then an advertisement hype, saying that the era of "land kings" was over and school district housing had become an outdated concept. The trend now was spiritual district housing!
Right! That name referred to places close to mountains and rivers that used to be reserved for building villas. To keep up with the new era, there was now a plan for a large-scale residential area.
The houses would be built first and the corresponding business quarter and schools would follow. The house owners would then send their children to the nearest schools. "With a blessed land on the doorstep and immortals as your neighbors..." What more could one want for their life!
Cui Bo was among those falling for the scheme. He was a resident of Chenqiao Town, which was under the jurisdiction of Xinxiang. It just so happened that he had a little spare cash at hand, and he bought a pre-selling flat.
Then there came the news a couple of days ago: this illegal project was built on illegally acquired land—the government was going to reclaim the land! That made a lot of people jump. The hundreds of people who had paid the down payment then gathered here for an explanation.
"Make way! Make way!"
When the excitement was pushing the crowd on the verge of losing control and they were going to smash down the front gate, two vehicles arrived from outside and scattered the crowd. The doors opened and a couple of officials from the municipal government got off the vehicles.
Seeing that the authorities had arrived, the crowd calmed down a little.
The head of the officials walked to the top of the stairs and placated the people himself. "Everyone, please calm down. I know how you must feel right now, so I'll skip all the formalities and make three points only.
"Firstly, the developer is under custody and waiting for his trial. Secondly, the grant of land use rights was invalid, and the government will reclaim the land. Last but not least, you will all get a full refund."
"Those are just words. Why should we believe you?"
"Exactly. I have worked my guts out saving up that money. How do we know you're not lying?"
The last point had actually eased their minds greatly. The further yelling was only to keep up the pressure.
The head did not mind their questions at least and said loudly, "You have my word on it: you won't be put off. Everyone can make the registration today and get a portion of their money back. I promise you that the rest will be refunded within in two working days!"
He paused a little before going on, taking the opportunity for some propaganda work. "I presume that you have all read the national plan. Please have faith in your government; every measure there is to solve the current difficulty and for a better future. This incident was caused by certain individuals that were abusing their power for personal gains and accumulating wealth by unfair means. Those individuals have been dealt with. I am confident enough to promise you that such things will not happen again! Meanwhile, I'd like everyone to be on alert for such scams. Please take the government's announcement as the criterion to all construction projects… oh, I have brought with me some pamphlets today. There, please hand it out to everyone."
Just like so, thanks to the prompt response of the municipal government, the incident was soon settled.
The head only got back to his vehicle after quite some time, where he finally let out a breath of relief. "That was close! Thank god we arrived in time!"
"Sir, that fellow has connections in the provincial government. Haven't we gone overboard a little by arresting him right away?" reminded his assistant apprehensively.
"Don't worry. It's a different world now." The official sneered and said contemptuously, "Getting his own pocket full during a nationwide calamity like this? He might as well have just signed his death sentence with it… let's go!"
After filling in the registration form, Cui Bo squeezed out of the crowd and went back to his shabby little car.
He did not start the car right away, but sat there reading the pamphlet, which explained the general planning of Xinxiang in the future. It covered all four districts, six counties, 55 towns, 69 townships, and the 6 million residents.
Some were to be expanded and upgraded, some developed into industrial zones, while some built into traffic hubs… he flipped through it and found Chenqiao Town he was a resident of.
The town was known for two characteristics.
For one, it had convenient land and water communications. The Yellow River Dike ran across the southern side of the town from the east to the west and the Yellow River Highway Bridge ran across the town on the east. No. 106 national highway was to the east of the town and No. 107 to the west, which together connected the town all the way to the capital city to the north and Hunan and Guangdong Provinces to the south. The town itself was in the middle of the cities of Shangdu, Bianliang, Xinxiang, and Chuqiu.
For another, it had special geographical setting. The town was right next to the tidal-flat area of Yellow River, which was over 10 000 mu in size. The area was rich in animal and plant resources, and although quite a few mutated creatures had been discovered, they were relatively less dangerous and had been subdued by the army.
Somehow, after making sure that the military force was capable of keeping the town safe, the government did not try to evacuate the town, but set up a quarantine zone instead, circling the tidal-flat area out.
Because of the two reasons above, Chenqiao Town was given much importance, and the pamphlet was also talking about it in more detail.
Cui Bo scanned through it. The introduction was more general in the beginning and more specific in the following pages.
For instance, two types of residential areas were to be built by the municipal government. One type was similar to dormitories, where 8-10 people would share a room. It was designed for single individuals and those with special needs. Toilets and washrooms were communal. The other type reminded one of tube-shaped apartments, which were to be distributed to families. Each household would be given a room around a dozen m^2. The toilets were also communal and there would be no kitchens.
The pamphlet also talked about the resettlement of migrants, where emergency shelters in downtown areas, bomb shelters, and even the barracks of the army would all be put into use. Makeshift houses were being put together around the clock at the same time—winter was coming and the heating system had to be ready.
There were also contents on the allocation of people. Those that could farm or raise cattle would be sent directly to the 27 agricultural bases and those that knew industrial technology could go to the factories, etc.
Cui Bo sat back into his chair in silence after reading it through.
He had only finished high school and could not understand all the measures mentioned, but he could see the general trend.
It was obvious that the city needed more farmers to ensure a steady output in staple and non-staple food, while maintaining the stability of industrial output. The idle residents would all be encouraged to go to the construction sites, and after the houses were built, they would have priority in the allotment of houses, or could rent the houses on discounted rates.
Shaking his head, he was suddenly at a loss. He then started the car and slowly drove back home.
His wife had been waiting for some time back at home. As soon as he set foot in, she asked, "How did it go? Got anything?"
"The official from the city came. I got our money back."
"Great! That's great!"
His wife was greatly relieved. Average families like theirs only had petty saving to fall back on. She couldn't imagine what they would do if it was gone. With the anxiety gone, she went happily into the kitchen to cook dinner.
Cui Bo, on the other hand, was not in the mood. He finished half a pack of cigarettes in silence and the door clanked open. Their son, a high school student, was home.
"Don't you have self-study period tonight?" asked Cui Bo in surprise.
"There is some meeting and the study period is canceled."
"Oh… come here, I need to talk to you." He hesitated a little and beckoned at his son to go into the bedroom.
His wife had just finished cooking dinner. "Why, where are you going? Dinner's ready!"
"I need to have a word with him."
"And you can't wait until after dinner? Come, sweetie, I made your favorite dish…"
"Shut up!" Cui Bo bellowed, making his wife and child jump. There was a silence for a couple of seconds before he waved his hand and dragged his son into the bedroom without a word.
"Dad, what do you what to tell me?" The kid fidgeted, apparently very nervous.
"Nothing, really. Your college entrance examination is next year, right? Well…" Cui Bo pondered for a moment and finally said, "I know you've always wanted to study liberal arts, but I don't think you should any more. Choose agronomy or science and engineering instead."
"Why? Didn't you all support me on this before? I want to get into a Chinese language department! I love literature!" The kid was angry.
"What good would literature do in the future!" Cui Bo didn't know how to explain it and decided to play the authoritative father. His decision was unquestionable. "It's agronomy or something to do with science and engineering. If your grades are not good enough, I'll talk to your uncle. He can get you enlisted. Even becoming a soldier is better than studying literature!"
The boy was on the verge of crying. Tears welled up in his eyes as he sat there twisting his fingers.
As angry as he was, he could not imagine how this small businessman without much education had racked his brain to come up with this plan for his future.
Little did the decision-makers know how much the people of the middle and lower classes had to gamble and struggle with at the turning of the new era.
Guizhou, Fanjing Mountain.
A peculiar set of rocks stood on top of this mountain. It was over ten meters tall and right next to a cliff. The top part was a big dipper-shaped rock, which was strutted by a thinner pillar of a stone. With the heavy top and light bottom, they looked like a mushroom together, hence the name "Mushroom Rock".
Right now, Gu Yu was sitting on that Mushroom Rock, cultivating the Red Sun Devil-smashing Sword Manual.
He had been here for over ten days, learning the sword manual while preparing for the refinement of the sword. The ancient sword did not come with a name, and being as lazy as he was, he just named it Red Sun Sword.
Other instruments could be refined by mental force, but the sword was an exception. He could only nourish it with his own energy after his cultivation was advanced enough to produce the sword energy.
Despite being a man of the innate state, he diligently started his study from the Technical Sword and only moved on to the Methodical Sword after he achieved the former.
Gu Yu closed his eyes in concentration and was breathing so quietly that it was almost undetectable. A blazing disc of fire hung in the sky; it was the hottest time of the day.
His face was as still as a pool of water, looking fresh, refined, and elegant. As he activated the manual, a scarlet thread spilled out of the scorching sun and flew into his body, only partially visible.
That was the energy of Red Sun, which was overwhelmingly unyielding and could withstand the corrosion of all evil. Once the thread was inside Gu Yu, it fused with his own vital essence and faded rapidly, turning into a thin streak of red current.
The liquid was far heavier than any common body fluid and ran all the way into Dantian. As it moved, his body made strange gurgling sounds.
That was the first step of cultivating for sword energy, known as Red Sun flooding the body.
The liquid was called Red Sun fluid. At this step, the entire body was like a huge leather bag, with the liquid constantly tumbling inside. The slightest movement would start the momentum of an energy avalanche inside the body, and one could bring damage to other objects of people as easy as turning their hands.
As said, "Fill the body with Red Sun and the sword energy will come!"
The second step was to refine this liquid to turn it into an energy, which was the innate state sword energy.
Gu Yu was one foot into the Human Immortal state before this, and it still took him ten days to get the hang of it. No wonder they all said the cultivation of Sword Immortals was so difficult.