Xi Jin­ping in Fu­jian: Great Care and Prag­matic Re­form for the Peo­ple

Great Care and Prag­matic Re­form for the Peo­ple

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents -

“Ispent my beau­ti­ful youth in Fu­jian Prov­ince,” Xi Jin­ping has ex­pressed his feel­ings for Fu­jian on many pub­lic oc­ca­sions. “It lasted for 17 and a half years since I started to work there in 1985, first in the Xi­a­men Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone, the moun­tain­ous Ningde, and the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal Fuzhou, and then in the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the CPC Fu­jian Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee. I ex­pe­ri­enced the process of Fu­jian’s re­form and open- ing up, mov­ing for­ward with great mo­men­tum and chang­ing with each pass­ing day, which has be­stowed on me a deep rev­o­lu­tion­ary friend­ship with the cadres and peo­ple there.”

Rid­ing the Tide

On Septem­ber 3, 2017, dur­ing his key­note speech at the BRICS Busi­ness Fo­rum, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ex­pressed

his great pas­sion for Xi­a­men: “Xi­a­men has been a trad­ing port since an­cient times as well as a gate­way of China’s open­ing up and ex­ter­nal co­op­er­a­tion. Em­brac­ing the vast ocean, the city has hosted vis­i­tors from around the world. On a per­sonal note, Xi­a­men is where I started off when I came to Fu­jian Prov­ince to take up a new post in 1985… To­day, Xi­a­men is a beau­ti­ful gar­den city with per­fect har­mony be­tween man and na­ture.”

In 1985, Xi Jin­ping left Zhengding County in He­bei Prov­ince for Xi­a­men on the coast of the East China Sea to work as its vice mayor. It was by chance that he took of­fice on his 32nd birth­day. “I was so ea­ger to work there be­cause there were plenty of pi­lot chances for the eco­nomic re­form and open­ing up,” he re­called.

In 1990, he be­came sec­re­tary of the CPC Fuzhou Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mit­tee. Dur­ing his ten­ure there, Xi pro­posed the idea of fur­ther open­ing the city’s door to the out­side world eco­nom­i­cally, form­ing a “golden tri­an­gle” at the Min­jiang River es­tu­ary, with the open­ing in down­town Fuzhou and Mawei De­vel­op­ment Zone at the core, which grad­u­ally ra­di­ated to north­east­ern Fu­jian.

At a meet­ing on in­ten­si­fy­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of for­eign in­vest­ment on April 2, 1994, Xi Jin­ping stressed that open­ing up to the out­side world was the pow­er­ful im­pe­tus and life­line for Fuzhou’s eco­nomic progress, which was de­cided by its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion.

“Fuzhou has achieved so many fruit­ful re­sults in open­ing its door wider to the out­side world and in­tro­duc­ing for­eign in­vest­ment mainly be­cause it didn’t copy oth­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ences,” ex­plained Xi. “It has blazed a trail fea­tur­ing its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, pro­ceed­ing from its re­al­ity in­stead of book­ish­ness and dog­matic in­ter­pre­ta­tions of guide­lines of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.”

Dur­ing his ten­ure there, Xi Jin­ping broke scores of hin­drances, ide­o­log­i­cal and sys­tem­at­i­cal, beef­ing up the re­form of state-owned en­ter­prises in Fuzhou. He paid seven vis­its to Jin­jiang in south­east­ern Fu­jian, com­ing back with the “Ex­pe­ri­ence of Jin­jiang” from many in­ves­ti­ga­tions and a huge amount of re­search, point­ing out the di­rec­tion for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment at the county level. He ini­ti­ated and led the re­form of the col­lec­tive for­est prop­erty right sys­tem, launched a cam­paign to crack down on food con­tam­i­na­tion, es­tab­lished an in­ter-co­op­er­a­tive pat­tern be­tween de­part­ments, and set up a farm­land-to-ta­ble su­per­vi­sion mech­a­nism for food safety, among sev­eral other re­forms.

Erad­i­cat­ing Poverty

“The peo­ple are in­ter­ested in more ur­gent and prac­ti­cal mat­ters. Work­ing hard to strengthen the coun­try, they have made a thriv­ing and pros­per­ous China their mis­sion. They are ded­i­cated to help­ing China es­cape from back­ward­ness as quickly as pos­si­ble and want to en­sure that it will soon stand among the ranks of de­vel­oped na­tions. In or­der to achieve these goals, ev­ery­one must agree that de­vel­op­ing the econ­omy is our po­lit­i­cal pri­or­ity,” de­scribed Xi Jin­ping in the af­ter­word for his book Up and Out of Poverty.

In 1988, Xi Jin­ping set off for Ningde, Fu­jian Prov­ince, as sec­re­tary of the pre­fec­tural CPC com­mit­tee. Ningde was one of China’s 18 most poverty-stricken ar­eas lo­cated in eastern Fu­jian, with poor in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties. Dur­ing his ten­ure of one year and 11 months there, he vis­ited al­most all vil­lages and town­ships.

The time Xi vis­ited Xi­adang Town­ship in Shoun­ing County is still fresh in his mem­ory. It was a day’s drive along the wind­ing moun­tain road. “I still re­mem­ber that the Party sec­re­tary of the town­ship chopped wood at the very front. We took a short­cut along a river, each of us hold­ing a bam­boo pole,” re­called Xi. “Few cadres had paid vis­its there be­cause it was re­mote and the road was rather bumpy. I was the first pre­fec­ture-level Party chief to visit the place.”

At that time, in some parts of Fu­jian, es­pe­cially the pover­tys­tricken ar­eas in the east, those liv­ing on a moun­tain got their liv­ing from the moun­tain by col­lect­ing fire­wood, or those liv­ing near the wa­ter lived off the wa­ter through fish­ing. For gen­er­a­tions, they had lived sparsely in huts or on boats, plagued by poverty. A small wooden boat might be the only dwelling for fish­er­men from one gen­er­a­tion to another.

Drift­ing on the wa­ter all their lives, the fish­er­men liv­ing on the boat were con­sid­ered a spe­cial poverty-stricken group with nei­ther houses nor land. Upon see­ing the sit­u­a­tion, Xi was so wor­ried that he made up his mind to make a dif­fer­ence to their lives.

In 1997, when he served as deputy sec­re­tary of the CPC Fu­jian Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee, Xi was greatly touched by an in­ves­tiga­tive re­port on the liv­ing con­di­tions of many vil­lagers in eastern Fu­jian who still lived in huts. He wasted no time in hold­ing a meet­ing and led a team to the coastal and moun­tain­ous ar­eas in the east of the

prov­ince. He sub­mit­ted a re­port to the pro­vin­cial CPC com­mit­tee upon his re­turn, sug­gest­ing that the prob­lems of house­holds liv­ing in “huts” or on “boats” be solved as soon as pos­si­ble.

At the end of 1998, Xi Jin­ping presided over an on-the-spot meet­ing in Fu’an, re­lo­cat­ing the fish­er­men to land. A few years of un­remit­ting ef­forts led these fish­er­men on their way to a sta­ble life, bid­ding farewell to their drift­ing days on the wa­ter, by the early 21st Cen­tury.

Dur­ing his ser­vice in Fu­jian, “the peo­ple” was the most re­peated phrase by Xi when he talked to his col­leagues in the gov­ern­ment. “Only by bear­ing in mind the peo­ple and tak­ing ev­ery­thing into ac­count for the peo­ple can we win sin­cere sup­port from them.” “Re­gard­less of po­si­tion, we must act as ser­vants of the peo­ple and al­ways care about their se­cu­rity and well-be­ing...”

Ex­pe­ri­ence of Changt­ing County

Changt­ing County in west­ern Fu­jian is one of the old rev­o­lu­tion­ary base ar­eas, as well as one of the start­ing points of the Red Army’s Long March (1934-1936). How­ever, it was one of the coun­ties suf­fer­ing the worst wa­ter and soil ero­sion in Fu­jian and even through­out the red soil re­gion of south­ern China.

In Novem­ber, 1999, Xi Jin­ping, then deputy sec­re­tary of the CPC Fu­jian Pro­vin­cial Com­mit­tee and act­ing gover­nor of the prov­ince, launched a cam­paign to har­ness wa­ter and soil loss.

In Fe­bru­ary 2000, the cam­paign was listed among the 15 projects ben­e­fit­ing the peo­ple most in the prov­ince, with an an­nual fund of 10 mil­lion yuan from the rel­e­vant de­part­ments of Fu­jian.

On Oc­to­ber 13, 2001, Xi Jin­ping re­turned to Changt­ing for the har­ness­ing project, where he couldn’t help but smile upon see­ing the lush cam­phor tree he do­nated and planted in the spring of 2000. On June 10, 2004, Xi re­ceived a bas­ket of waxberry from Changt­ing, a thank-you gift from the area once hit by wa­ter and soil ero­sion.

To­day, thanks to more than a decade of painstak­ing ef­forts, Fu­jian has turned out to be the leader of the coun­try in for­est cov­er­age for many years in a row as well as the only prov­ince that en­joys “fine-qual­ity” wa­ter, air, and eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

And that’s only one of the many en­deav­ors Xi Jin­ping made for the prov­ince’s eco­log­i­cal progress. From Changt­ing County to the en­tire prov­ince, Xi had taken prac­ti­cal mea­sures to let the eco­log­i­cal strength serve the econ­omy, so as to bet­ter ben­e­fit the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Back to 2000, then gover­nor Xi put for­ward the idea of build­ing Fu­jian into an eco­log­i­cally friendly prov­ince, and his ini­tia­tive was put into prac­tice: Fu­jian was in­cluded in the first group of prov­inces in the coun­try for pi­lot work in 2002.

Striv­ing for 17 and a half years in Fu­jian, Xi Jin­ping has con­trib­uted re­mark­ably, both the­o­ret­i­cally and prac­ti­cally, to a se­ries of ma­jor sec­tors, such as re­form, open­ing up, de­vel­op­ment, and Party build­ing. His work­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in Fu­jian have proven to greatly in­spire his later the­ory and prac­tice for the gov­er­nance of China.

Chixi used to top China's list of im­pov­er­ished vil­lages for poverty- al­le­vi­a­tion cam­paigns. Dur­ing his ten­ure as Ningde County's Party chief, Xi Jin­ping placed great im­por­tance on poverty re­duc­tion. Over the last few years, the vil­lage has made...

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