University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC): Helping build smart urban and rural communities in one of China’s poorest counties


Cengong County can be found in the east of Guizhou Province, and covers an area of 1,486.5 square kilometers. It is home to 18 ethnic groups including the Han, Miao, Dong, Gelao and Tujia, with a total population of 230,000 people, among which, 158,000 make a living on farming. With poverty still a reality for 21,873 people, Cengong is one of the poorest counties in China.

For the past few years, the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) has been undertaking targeted action to help build smart urban and rural communities in Cengong to put an end to poverty in the county, in alliance with the Cengong County Party Committee and the County government. By the end of 2017, poverty incidence in Cengong had fallen from 31.1% in 2014 to 10.5%.

Think tank. UESTC established a think tank focusing on targeted poverty alleviation strategy, to inform the Cengong government’s decision-making on economic development and other major initiatives. After reaching an agreement on helping build smart urban and rural communities throughout Cengong, the university spent over 500,000 RMB developing a master plan and detailed implementation rules.

Capacity-building.The university spent another 500,000 RMB to hold five training workshops for 254 senior and junior government officials, offering courses on e-commerce, big data, agricultural tourism, and urbanization in the new era.

Alumni support. The university secured an investment of 10 million RMB by Chengdian Yixing, a digital health service software business founded by one of its alumni, to build digitalized vaccination clinics, telemedicine facilities and medicine supervision platforms across the county.

Resource mobilization. After the master plan was approved by the Cengong government, UESTC started to help mobilize the needed resources for projects to go from blueprint to actual rollout. In September 2017, the first round of project investments totaling 1.889 billion RMB was approved the county’s development and reform bureau.

ICT infrastructure. To facilitate targeted poverty alleviation efforts, UESTC spent 2 million in building ICT infrastructure in primary and lower secondary schools. Today, the county is among the first in Qiandongnan Prefecture to achieve universal ICT connectivity at compulsory education level.

Online communication platform. The university helped build a Weibo account “Cengong Today” to publicizing the county’s customs, agricultural products, and tourist resources, raising its visibility in and beyond Guizhou province.