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Village head treats residents as family

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-17 07:54
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Li Yuanmin said there is no secret to being a village Party chief trusted by the 3,905 residents of Gaimai.

"All you need to do is to treat them as your family members and think from their perspective all the time," the 53-year-old said.

When she was just a year old, she moved from Shandong province to the village in Yining county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, with her parents. She grew up in Gaimai, where 90 percent of the villagers are farmers from such ethnic groups as Uygur and Hui, and she speaks the Uygur language fluently. The villagers gave her a Uygur name, Jemila, which means beauty.

Li said she doesn't think she is a beauty. Instead, she said she is a tough woman with a bit of a temper when it comes to village affairs. "Unlike the former Party chiefs transferred in from other places, I am a local, so I know the local ways of handling things. Also, the villagers know that I am here to stay."

In February 2012, Li became the village's Party chief and head of the village committee. The announcement was made in a room packed with local people. "They all stood up and cheered for me. It was the moment I decided to make changes and help the villagers live a better life," said Li, who previously worked as a livestock breeder.

On the same night, she noticed some village officials were drinking and playing cards in the village committee office. She smashed the bottles and warned them of disciplinary action. Virtually the entire village learned about what Li did the next morning and knew changes were coming. "I didn't do that for show. I just couldn't stand village officials who get slack at work because those officials can never unite the villagers. I won't have them on my team," she said.

Li then decided to encourage young people in the village, especially those who had just graduated from universities, to get involved in the management of local affairs and offer innovative ideas to help speed up poverty alleviation in the poor area.

With help from Li's new team, the villagers' average annual income nearly doubled to 12,000 yuan ($1,820) in 2016 from 6,500 in 2010.

She also made all the village committee's work transparent by listing their actions on a notice board. "The villagers now feel free to talk to me anytime if they are not happy about a committee decision. I am only their servant, and the power is in their hands," Li said.

"The job of village Party chiefs is so important because the implementation of all central government policies depends on us. We are also the Party officials the villagers meet and talk to everyday," Li said.

Although Li is in Beijing to attend the 19th CPC National Congress as a member of the Xinjiang delegation, she still keeps track of construction on a new road that villagers desperately need. "I promised the villagers that the new road will be completed by the end of this year and I cannot let them down," she said.

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