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BEIJING - Four men who served as local officials in the early 1990s paid a special visit to a statue of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping last Saturday in the city of Shenzhen along with Xi Jinping, the new helmsman of China's ruling party.
Li Hao, 86, Liang Guangda, 77, Chen Kaichi, 72, and Ou Guangyuan, 64, all served in the southern province of Guangdong in 1992 and met Deng in person when the late leader visited the south and delivered important speeches on reform and opening up.
The four were seen standing along with other senior leaders at Saturday morning's flower-laying service in Lianhuashan Park, located in the heart of Shenzhen.
Xi said the visit "shows that we will unswervingly push forward reform and opening up and strive to achieve new progress, new breakthroughs and new steps in boosting reform, opening-up and the country's modernization drive."
In 1992, Li was mayor of Shenzhen, a southern coastal city neighboring Hong Kong that was home to the country's first special economic zone and was later known as a showcase for China's reform and opening up initiative.
Li said it meant a lot for Xi to choose Shenzhen and Guangdong as the destination of his first inspection tour since being chosen as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee last month.
The province is expected to shoulder great responsibilities in future reforms, said Li.
Chen, who served as deputy secretary general of the provincial CPC committee in 1992, escorted Deng during his landmark visit.
Xi went to Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shunde and Guangzhou during his own five-day visit, following in the footsteps of Deng, said Chen.
Chen said the visit is a clear sign that Xi will stick to the path of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and the policy of reform and opening up.
Ou, CPC chief of the city of Foshan in 1992, agreed that Xi's visit to Guangdong gave a clear signal to the world.
Liang, mayor of the city of Zhuhai during Deng's visit, said it was a "great experience" to talk with Xi.
Xi used his actions, rather than words, to demonstrate his resolution toward making progress, said Liang.
Liang said Xi's visit in Shenzhen proceeded without the issuance of traffic controls or the clearing of public areas, which is in line with a new policy designed to reduce bureaucracy.
At a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held last Tuesday, senior officials agreed that there should be fewer traffic controls arranged for traveling leaders in order to avoid unnecessary public inconvenience.
Liang said Xi's visit was an exemplary implementation of the new rules.
"I can feel that our country is full of hope," said Liang.