URUMQI - The top Party official in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region made a surprise visit on Monday to outdoor food courts in the regional capital, winning praise from local residents and netizens.
About 10 pm on Monday, diners and food stand owners at the Dawan Evening Food Court in Urumqi became excited by the unexpected arrival of Zhang Chunxian, the Party secretary of the autonomous region, Xinjiang Daily, the local official newspaper, reported on Tuesday.
Zhang Chunxian (center), Party chief of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Monday offers lamb kebabs to local residents who were having dinner at a food court in Urumqi. [Li Yang / for China Daily]
Going to outdoor food courts for dinner in summer is popular among Urumqi residents.
At a food stand run by Ahmet, a Uygur identified by his first name, Zhang asked about food prices, the sales volume and the rent for the stand, according to the report.
Ahmet, apparently surprised by Zhang's visit, offered the Party leader some kebabs, and told Zhang that this year had been his best since he opened his stand at the food court in 2007.
"I am so busy receiving customers during peak times that sometimes I can't get around to serving the food," Ahmet told Zhang.
Zhang posed for pictures with people at the food court, the report said.
At another outdoor food court called Qiyixingguang, Zhang told diners that he had enjoyed the food in Xinjiang since he had become a local resident.
Zhang also toasted with the diners, saying, "Go, Xinjiang!"
Zhang's visits will win a thousand times more trust from the people than an inspection of security work in the city, said an anonymous online comment posted on a local news portal.
"Go, Secretary Zhang!" said another post.
"I prepared 500 lamb kebabs tonight, nearly 200 more than yesterday," Yasinjan Awut, a 49-year-old Uygur man who runs a small kebab booth at the food court, told China Daily on Tuesday.
"As Xinjiang's top official paid a visit to my vendor and ate my kebabs, I guess more people will come tonight and eat all my kebabs," Yasinjan said.
"The peak time for visitors is around 11 pm. And business this year has doubled from last year."
"Zhang's visit gave us encouragement. We, the Xinjiang people, will have a stable, peaceful and happy life," Liu Qun, a local resident, said.
"There were few visitors at this food market after 11 pm last summer, as most of us were worried about our security in the aftermath of the deadly riots that happened on the same day two years ago.
"But this year, there are a lot more visitors. More and more people have shaken off the shadow of the riot."