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Education through service

By Peng Yining | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-05 07:01

Firsthand experience of life among the people is an invaluable asset for the country's new top leaders, reports Peng Yining in Beijing.

Related: Realizing the 'China Dream'

When Xi Jinping, China's top political leader, worked as a village head in the northwestern province of Shaanxi in the 1970s, his unstuffy attitude boosted his popularity. Xi was happy to stand in icy water to help farmers reinforce river banks; he organized a small cooperative for blacksmiths and helped build the first methane tank in the province, according to reports from Xinhua News Agency.

Education through service

Having spent decades working in second- and third-tier cities, and even in some of the country's most remote villages, all seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, the country's top leadership body, have experienced life in harsh conditions.

"Our people have an ardent love of life. They want better education, more stability in employment, higher incomes, greater social security, better medical and healthcare, improved housing and a better environment. They want their children to benefit from sound growth and good jobs, and to lead a more enjoyable life," said Xi in his first public speech as general secretary on Nov 15. "To meet their desire for a happy life is our mission."

At the age of 16, Xi volunteered to live as an "educated youth" in a small village in Shaanxi, one of millions of young city dwellers who responded to Chairman Mao's call for them to live and work in agrarian areas, starting in the 1950s.

Between 1982 and 1985, he worked for the CPC's Zhengding County Committee in Hebei province. Later, he was transferred to Fujian province and worked there for 17 years, his posts ranging from vice-mayor to provincial governor. He worked in Zhejiang province for five years as secretary of the CPC provincial committee, before spending 12 months in Shanghai as secretary of the city's municipal committee. In 2007, he became a member of the top leadership body of the country.

"Xi has been among the villagers and was himself a farmer in his early career. Hence, he knows what sort of lives people lead and what they need from the government," said Ding Yuanzhu, deputy head of the Policy Advisory Department at the Chinese Academy of Governance. "The backgrounds of Xi and the other committee members give them a deeper understanding of the country and help them to improve the people's well-being."

Education through service 

This 2007 photo shows Xi Jinping as Shanghai Party chief on a visit to students with hearing problems at Qiyin school in the city’s Minhang district. [Photo/Xinhua]

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