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Xi Focus-Closeup: Paddling through all odds on fact-finding mission

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-04-27 15:14
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BEIJING -- On a morning in April 1982, Zhang Wupu, who was the Party chief of Xizhaotong commune, stood at the commune's entrance in Zhengding county, Hebei province, awaiting the arrival of the new deputy Party chief for the county.

Unexpectedly, a young man dressed in plain clothes rode up to him on an old bicycle, taking Zhang by surprise.

The man got off his bike and, with a smile, offered his hand to Zhang, who soon realized that it was Xi Jinping, the newly appointed deputy secretary of the Zhengding County Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Zhang inquired, "Did you come alone? And how did you find your way here?"

"I asked for directions along the way," Xi replied.

Although the county had two jeeps available for official duty, Xi frequently opted to ride his bicycle during fact-finding research trips to gain firsthand knowledge of the county's conditions, including issues that might go under the radar for officials in a chauffeured sedan.

However, these rides were not always easy, and Xi sometimes had to carry his bike over sandy riverbanks or rough terrain.

During one such trip, Xi learned from local villagers that farmers in the area were unable to sustain themselves with their high grain yields and had to purchase sweet potatoes from other regions.

After investigating the issue, Xi discovered that the county did not have enough food left for the farmers after fulfilling the country's annual purchase quota. He reported this problem to upper-level authorities. Subsequently, the quota was lowered and the farmers' burden relieved as a result.

In a letter to Zhengding officials, Xi said, "When we conduct research and fact-finding activities, we must carry them out thoroughly, go to see the realities by ourselves and hear the public opinion directly."

He also noted that the county's officials should spend at least a third of their time at the grassroots level.

And Xi led by example. While in Zhengding, he visited all villages administered by the county. During his tenure as the Party chief of Ningde Prefecture in Fujian Province in the late 1980s, he made a journey to a remote and impoverished township, Xiadang, which was situated in a mountainous area with no proper roads. Xi traversed a narrow and brambled path for hours to reach the township. This had a profound impact on the residents, as very few officials were willing to make the effort to visit Xiadang.

After being appointed Party chief of Zhejiang province in the early 2000s, Xi visited all 90 counties, cities, and districts in the province in a little over a year. During his seven months serving as Shanghai's Party chief, Xi also visited all 19 districts and counties under the city's jurisdiction.

Even as the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, the Party's top official, Xi remains a role model for going to the grassroots, regardless of the obstacles and difficulties involved.

He conducted over 50 inspections and research studies on poverty alleviation, which included visits to all 14 contiguous regions marred by extreme poverty.

Sometimes, he insisted on visiting those far-flung places.

His journey to a poor village situated in the country's southwest mountainous hinterlands in 2019 was an example. He left Beijing early in the morning and arrived in Huaxi Village in the evening. Sitting in the courtyard with the locals, he said, "I took a plane, a train, and a car, switching between three modes of transportation just to get here to meet you and hear what you have to say to us."

"Go to villages, go to communities, and go there often," Xi once told Party officials at a training session at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. "Visit those close by and those far afield; see the real situation, good or bad. We should listen to both praise and criticism from the public. That is how we get to grips with what is really going on."

In early April, the Party launched a new campaign to encourage more fact-finding research and studies.

For Xi and the entire Party, the campaign will continue to be an unceasing endeavor to understand the issues facing the country, as the CPC advances the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.

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