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China: Villagers build $2.1M year-end bonus into 'money wall'

By Naomi Ng for CNN
updated 4:06 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Villagers stand in front of a 'money wall' in Sichuan, China waiting to collect their year-end bonus from their investments on 14 January.
Villagers stand in front of a 'money wall' in Sichuan, China waiting to collect their year-end bonus from their investments on 14 January.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Villagers in China's Sichuan province build a $2.1M "money wall" out of year-end bonuses
  • They run a rural co-operative that invests in farmland and hydropower plants
  • The money was heavily guarded before being distributing in time for Chinese New Year
  • Guard: "It was so uncomfortable sleeping on so much money"

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Farmers from a village in southwest China literally turned a multimillion dollar windfall into a wall of cash.

This week, residents of Jianshe village in Sichuan Province took delivery of blocks of money worth 13 million yuan ($2.1 million) in year-end bonuses they had earned from a rural co-operative scheme. Residents had invested in farmland and small-scale hydropower plants since 2010.

Around 340 out of 483 households are shareholders in the small village, which has a population of less than 2,000 people.

Before they could distribute their earnings to individual residents ahead of Chinese New Year, they had the problem of where to store -- and guard -- it.

Chief villager, Jin Hongyuan, told local media he moved the money inside the village committee office after transporting it from the bank on Monday. To keep the money safe, he appointed three villagers to sleep on the banknotes inside the office, while four others stood guard outside.

"We used 800,000 yuan as a mattress, 420,000 yuan as pillows, and put the others aside," Jin told the West China Metropolis Daily.

The following day, the banknotes were moved into the village square and stacked to form a seven-foot long wall and create a $2 million photo opportunity.

Many villagers said they had never seen so much money before.

Building the 'money wall' in Jianshe village  Building the 'money wall' in Jianshe village
Building the 'money wall' in Jianshe villageBuilding the 'money wall' in Jianshe village

Villager Jin Ou, who collected the most dividends from his investments, was delighted to finally get his hands on 300,000 yuan ($49,000) in cash.

"It's so cold, and I've been counting (cash) for the whole day, my fingers are all numb," he told reporters.

The story was an immediate hit with China's legions of Internet users.

One netizen, known as "xiaomili_xiaomi" took to Weibo, a Twitter-like service, to post: "Let's be friends, rich villagers!"

Others asked if they could join in on the investment bonanza and become a member of the rural co-operative.

Unfortunately, the scheme only allows investors who are members of Jianshe village. The only way to join is by marrying into the families, said Jin.

CNN's intern April Ma contributed to this report.

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