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Resettling China's 'Ecological Migrants'

MIAOMIAO LAKE VILLAGE, China — Ankle-deep sand blocked the door of their new home. Pushing bicycles through the yard was like wading in a bog. The “lake” part of Miaomiao Lake Village turned out to be nothing but a tiny oasis more than a mile from the cookie-cutter rows of small concrete-block houses.

Ma Shiliang, a village doctor whose family was among some 7,000 Hui Muslims whom the Chinese government had brought to this place from their water-scarce lands in the country’s northwest, said officials promised “we would get rich.” Instead, these people who once herded sheep and goats over expansive hills now feel like penned-in animals, listless and uncertain of their future.

“If we had known what it was like, we wouldn’t have moved here,” said Dr. Ma, 41, who, three years on, has been unable to get a job practicing medicine in Miaomiao Lake Village or to find other reliable work.  Read more...