What makes for an imaginary of remoteness that in turn produces economic yield? This article explores the interplay of remoteness and connectivity in Guizhou, a Chinese province that has long been constructed as rugged, lacking in civilisation, inaccessible and effectively immune to control. Situated in China's southwest, largely populated by minority peoples, the province has been iconic of the ‘remote’ across centuries of Chinese history, despite the region having no international border. In this article, an American anthropologist, an anthropologist from Guizhou and an American geographer interrogate the shifting valences of remoteness during and since the period of Mao. We interrogate Guizhou's remoteness as simultaneously derogated and celebrated and consider the emergence of a ‘post‐alteric imaginary’ reflecting contemporary realignments of state–populace, urban–rural and Han–minority. Infrastructure development is read alongside tourism development as we probe the synergy between national imaginaries that distance Guizhou and local strategies of self‐fashioning and branding.