Always ready to take on a challenge
Updated: 2008-03-17 07:06
He was seen in SARS wards and AIDS-stricken villages. He visited four provinces in nine days during the recent weather disaster, bowing to families of deceased heroes and apologizing to millions stranded at railway stations.
While helping China achieve double-digit GDP growth for five consecutive years, he has lived up to his motto: "The most important issue under the sun is to care for the wellbeing of the people."
Wen Jiabao, the 65-year-old premier, has increased his popularity since he first took office in March 2003. He was approved by the parliament yesterday to be premier of the State Council for another five-year term.
Throughout his first tenure as premier, Wen stood in the vanguard to confront every disaster. He has visited most of the country's 2,800-odd counties, wearing his simple jacket and sneakers and chatting with farmers, miners and migrant workers.
He once invited a dozen grain farmers, rural teachers, coal miners, migrant workers and community doctors to Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound usually off-limits to commoners, to hear their comments on State affairs and government policy.
Since becoming premier in March 2003, Wen has underscored the wellbeing of the people, particularly those in the underdeveloped western regions. He has led the government in a campaign to provide equal education, medical care and other social security coverage for the country's 730 million farmers.
For five years, his government work reports to the annual parliamentary session were full of inspiring new policies aimed at improving the livelihoods of the people, and led to the agricultural tax exemption and direct subsidies to grain farmers.
Wen, whose own parents were teachers, has underscored time and again the importance of education, and facilitated the exemption of tuition and miscellaneous fees for primary and middle school students in the rural areas, as well as for students of six leading teachers' universities across the country.
This year, he promised nine years of free compulsory education in both urban and rural areas.
Trained as a geologist, Wen is cool-headed and steadfast, and confronts the nation's woes with the persistence of an avid prospector, and the precision of a professor.
"It's hard to be premier of the world's most populous nation," Wen has said. "A trivial issue becomes a big one when multiplied by 1.3 billion, and an astronomical figure becomes minute when divided by 1.3 billion."
In his first tenure as premier, Wen's government led China to become the world's fourth largest economy after the United States, Japan and Germany, blending effective macroeconomic regulation with a new market economy.
He pushed ahead reforms in the financial sector, including the shareholding reforms and listing of three leading State-owned commercial banks - the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank.
The three banks now rank second, sixth and seventh in the world respectively in terms of market capitalization, according to a top 100 bank list published by the Boston Consulting Group last year.
Wen led the country to cut energy consumption, reduce emissions and eliminate backward production facilities. These efforts began to pay off last year, when China reported, for the first time in years, a reduction in both chemical oxygen demand and emissions of sulfur dioxide, by 3.14 percent and 4.66 percent respectively from the previous year.
Facing a global economic slowdown and the severest inflationary pressure in recent decades, Wen said the country needs to maintain the appropriate pace, focus and intensity of macroeconomic regulation to sustain steady and fast economic development and avoid drastic fluctuations in the economy.
Born in 1942 in North China's port city of Tianjin, Wen worked in Gansu province for 14 years before he was moved to the Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources in Beijing in 1982. Beginning 1985, he worked for eight years at the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, serving as its deputy director and then director.
Wen became China's youngest vice-premier in 1998, overseeing agricultural and rural affairs, economic planning and finance.
He was elected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in 2002, and was reelected to the nine-member top decision-making body in 2007.
(China Daily 03/17/2008 page5)