Xi Jinping (C), then secretary of CPC Zhengding County Committee, talked with people on a street in Zhengding, Hebei province, in 1983.
When President Xi Jinping's built his career in the 1980s, one of his main priorities was the resurgence of Hebei province's Zhengding county. His accomplishments in that area have been illuminated by a recent profile by the Hebei Daily.
Zhengding, located 240 kilometers south of Beijing, is a county with a long history and rich culture.
Xi was deputy secretary of the CPC Zhengding County Committee from 1982 to 1983, and then the committee's secretary. At the same time, he was first commissar and Party Committee first secretary of the Zhengding County Military Affairs Department from 1983 to 1985.
As detailed by Hebei Daily, Xi gave up a comfortable office job in Beijing and trained himself in an underdeveloped county by living a simple life. He kept a low profile for the three years, sleeping on a worn-out mattress under a patchwork multi-colored, military quilt. Like everyone else, he waited in line for his meals and used a bicycle, in his case, to visit people and investigate their lives.
During this time, Xi assumed a broad range of responsibilities, including agricultural development, redressing wrongful cases, culture, health, education, and family planning. Xi impressed the local people, according to the report, for being open-minded, bullish about reform, as well as accessible, modest, practical and wise.
One major development attributed to Xi was easing the area's food shortage. Zhengding had been suffering from excessive collection of public grain on the base of an exaggerated production, but Xi solved that. Xi emphasized that members of Communist Party of China must hold fast to the tradition of "seeking truth from facts".
Xi also actively boosted agricultural reform in the poverty stricken Lishuang Commune. He doubled the agricultural output and ushered in reforms that were later implemented all over the county. In fact, The People's Daily praised Xi's achievement with a headline "The Record of Zhengding's Turnaround" on Jun 17, 1984.
To further promote Zhengding's economic growth, Xi invited intellectuals and engineers to work in the county. In one case, he personally sent more than 100 letters to leading experts and scholars to form an "economic advisors group".
Xi also introduced a series of measures to develop Zhengding's culture and tourism industry. The measure dramatically increased the number of tourists to 400,000 in 1984 and then 500,000 in 1985.
In one notable case, he worked to coordinate that China Central Television would select Zhengding as the site a TV series based on Dream of Red Mansions, one of China's greatest classical novels.
To achieve this, he applied for policy support from the upper government and sought funding from a private company too.
The drama's success in China in 1987 significantly increased Zhengding's reputation as a tourism spot, attracting 1.3 million visitors and making a quick return on the investment.
Xi's was also known for his consistent support of the education system. He personally donated 200 yuan to improve the teaching facilities at a school in Beijia village, Yong'an Commune.
Hebei Daily also reported Xi's great efforts to enhance the Party building and working style. In fact, in December 1983, Xi helped introduce a six-point rule for better leadership.