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Chinese leaders visit poor on holiday eve
Latest Updated by 2007-02-18 09:31:37
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Chinese President Hu Jintao (R1) talks to a farm of Daping village of Dingxi city in Gansu Province, northwest China on Feb. 17, 2007. Hu visited the village on the lunar new year's eve.(Xinhua Photo)

 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao gestures to extend a festival greeting to Wang Huanrong, 93, a resident of Fushun city, in Fushun city, northeast China's Liaoning Province, on Friday, two days before the Chinese Spring Festival.(Xinhua Photo)

 

Chinese President Hu Jintao marked the eve of the Year of Boar by frying dough twists, eating steamed potatoes and cutting paper window decorations with poor farmers in the barren countryside of northwestern Gansu Province.

 

On early Saturday, buses carrying Hu and accompanying officials rocked along the bumpy mountain roads to Daping village of Dingxi city in Gansu, where Hu once visited in 1999 and ordered local officials to work hard on poverty alleviation.

 

"Dear villagers, I come to greet you a happy new year," Hu said, addressing a crowd of farmers in front of a village house. "I visited Daping eight years ago. Today, I am very pleased to see lots of changes. New houses are erected and plenty of food is stored, which shows the lives of the Daping people have really improved."

 

In a villager's home, Hu sat with farmers and children, asking about grain production and the family income.

 

One of the farmers gave the president a full basket of potatoes, telling him that, like many others, his life had improved by planting potatoes.

 

The lunar new year of 2007, which starts on February 18, is also the Year of Pig. To most Chinese, the pig is considered a symbol of wealth and good fortune.

 

But fortune comes slowly for farmers in barren Gansu. Last year, the income of each farmer in this northwestern province was estimated at only 2,100 yuan (296 U.S. dollars), far below the 3,587 yuan national average for the farming population.

 

Hu has spent the previous three Lunar New Year eves visiting poor residents in the countryside. Last year, he fried rice cakes, drank home-made wine and danced with local villagers in rural Yan'an of Shaanxi Province, also in northwestern China.

 

During the president's pre-holiday visit to Gansu, he made a stop at Huining, where three major corps of the Red Army joined triumphantly at the end of the Long March. Hu visited the site and the Long March museum and talked to a group of aging army veterans.

 

"In the past, you fought hard under Chairman Mao's command and made important contributions to the victory of the Chinese revolution. The Party and the people will always remember you," Hu told the army veterans, one of whom burst into tears hearing the president's words.

 

Hu then urged all Chinese people to elevate the spirit of Red Army veterans in the country's great cause of a new Long March - the building of a well-off society and socialist modernization.

 

In the previous evening, the president visited the province's academicians with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, national model workers and representatives from all walks of life upon his arrival in Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu Province.

 

Hu expressed his thanks to those people, saying they have made great contributions to the construction of a modern socialist country.

 

The president then urged them to embrace the chance of develop-the West strategy and make new contributions to the modernization of Gansu Province.

 

A day before Hu's visit to Daping, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made his new year trip to low-income families in Fushun city, northeast China's Liaoning Province. It was Wen's second trip, in fewer than four year, to the city, one of the major coal mining centers in the country's old northeastern industrial base.

 

At the home of 74-year-old retired worker Zhang Yuanzhou, Wen said Fushun city had contributed one billion tons of coal to the country since 1949, the year when New China was founded.

 

"The Chinese government must solve the problems for workers in the old industrial base. The first step is housing. The second is employment," Wen said. "Harmony will not be achieved until people live a stable life and enjoy their work."

 

Analysts said Chinese top leaders' repeated visits to the poor people this year show their sincerity in making commitments and the strong resolution to address the problem of common people, especially the most needy.

 

The second day of the lunar new year, February 19, coincides with the 10th anniversary of the death of Deng Xiaoping, who unleashed the economic reforms in the late 1970s, benefiting many Chinese, especially those living in coastal cities. But unfortunately, the majority of 900 million Chinese peasants were largely left behind.

 

Last year, the per-capita income of Chinese peasants was less than one third of the level of urban residents. Official estimation put the rural poverty population at 21.5 million.

 

And rural protests and petitions, prompted by land expropriation, corruption, harsh law enforcement, have also become more frequent in recent years.

 

One of Deng's most quoted slogans is "Let some people get rich first, but the nation should finally move to equal prosperity." And it seems that the second part of Deng's sentence had been increasingly addressed to over the past few years.

 

The central leadership particularly has launched the "develop-the-west" drive focusing on the vast and poor western regions and the "revive the old northeastern industrial base" drive to boost the economy in three northeastern provinces, where a large number of state factory workers were laid off in the market economy reform in the 1990s.

According to official statistics, the central budget allocated 1,114.2 billion yuan (139.3 billion U.S. dollars) to the construction of rural regions, agriculture and the development of farmers during 2003 to 2006.

 

And the government has also phrased out an ancient agricultural tax, set a bottom purchase price for major grain products, promised free education for rural kids and worked hard to provide affordable health care in good quality.

In his new year speech this year, Premier Wen Jiabao called on officials to care about issues concerning the people's immediate interests, saying it is the government's basic responsibility.

 

Income distribution, employment, education, medical care are singled out by the premier as the core issues of people's concerns.

 

"Only after we wholeheartedly try to solve the problems of the masses, can the people truly embrace us," Wen said.

 

Editor: Wing

By: Source: China View website
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