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Tall or short, workers honoured
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-23 09:09

Dozens of farmers-turned-workers, private entrepreneurs and even basketball star Yao Ming are among the central government's long candidate list of "national model and advanced workers" about to get a handshake and certificate from the nation's top leaders.

Tall or short, it is a great honour - no matter how one measures the occasion.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will present awards to the 2,100 winners in Beijing next Saturday, one day before International Labour Day.

"All of them are outstanding representatives of China's working classes," Zhou Yuqing, vice-president of the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) told Friday's news conference.

Zhou said it is the first time to include migrant workers and private company owners into the candidates of model and advanced workers.

He said the final list will be decided by the mid-week since award candidates are accepting assessments from the public through websites and newspapers.

So far, about 170 model and advanced nominees are under investigation because the public has questioned their qualifications.

Although a few provinces and cities have named private entrepreneurs model workers of local levels in recent years, entry into the national selection process had been kept closed to the country's new-rich till this February, when the selection rules were formally changed to make them "eligible nominees."

"We opened the door to them because we want to encourage people from all walks of life to make contributions to the country," said Zhou.

Private entrepreneurs used to have no access to the national top award because they were once regarded as people making profits from others' labour.

Liu Yonghao, board chairman of the Sichuan-based New Hope Group who was once dubbed "China's richest person" on the Forbes annual most wealthy list, made the candidates' list for having helped 4.59 million people out of poverty over the past decade by sponsoring nearly 10,000 projects in the country's poorest western and central areas, Xinhua reported.

In addition to about 30 private employers, some 20 farmers-turned-workers are going to receive the honours. Zhou said they have set a wonderful example for China's 130 million migrants because of their integrity, skills and contributions.

Basket ball player Yao Ming, Olympic champions Liu Xiang and Wang Yifu are also on the list. Liu made history by winning the men's Olympic 110 metres hurdles in Athens last year and Wang has taken part in six straight Olympics since 1984 and won two air pistol gold medals in Barcelona and Athens respectively.

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Tall or short, workers honoured


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